iWork and free apps

It’s the pre-Holiday/post-WWDC season and iOS and Mavericks updates have arrived with a flurry of new announcements including free versions of the iWork apps. Now you can get an OS upgrade AND a decent productivity suite — for free.

One of Apple’s big selling points is the ability to seamlessly exchange and edit files across iOS and Macs, as well as support for live multi-person web-based editing. This pitches them squarely against Microsoft Office, Office 365, and Google Docs.

To get to this point they had to do a total re-write of existing iWork apps so they would have feature parity across iOS, Mac, and the web. And by rewriting they ended up leaving out some features out of the already capable desktop version.

As you might imagine this didn’t go over so well with some highly vocal people. Apple, feeling the heat, uncharacteristically put out a press release promising future enhancements — pretty much taking a page from the Final Cut Pro X playbook.

Merging the source code between iOS and Mac means they get feature parity. Doing so means they can have the same document accessible across Mac, iOS, and the web. However, it means they had to leave out certain features, notably AppleScript.

Applescript has been an omni-present power-user feature that has been around for quite some time. Taking it out of the flagship office suite can mean either:

  1. Apple is dropping support for scripting and automation, or
  2. We’ll be getting AppleScript across all platforms — specifically, iOS.

I’m betting on #2.

Doing so offers several benefits:

  • Apple will get even more parity between their two platforms.
  • iOS apps can be automated.
  • Nobody else supports tight scripting of the mobile workflow.
  • If developers change their apps to support scripting you would get (practically for free) Siri integration with installed apps!

If it was me I’d put AppleScript on iOS support high up on the priority list of features to announce in the next WWDC. Along with a new iWork update. And Siri Everywhere™.

Pushing out iWork in its current half-baked form worked well with the ‘all OS and apps are free’ story. That sticks it to Microsoft in a big way, makes Macs and iOS devices all the more attractive to the BYOD crowd, and lets Apple have a horse in the race against Google Apps.

But I believe the end-goal should be scripting on iOS and deep Siri integration.

It would open up a whole new way of interacting with our mobile devices.