iWork ‘08—Numbers & Keynote

by Tanner Godarzi Aug 24, 2007

Continuing part 2 of my review, I am going to focus on Numbers and Keynote.

As I mentioned in last week’s review, I am no power user. I’m not looking at an office suite to create billboard sized posters or memos worthy of Donald Trump’s blessings. I’m an average consumer, I need something I can cling on to quickly, something that will run fast and something that will allow compatibility with what the majority uses.

Luckily, all 3 apps perform adequately for my needs and, I am sure, yours.

The interface amongst the entire suite is nearly identical, with the standardized toolbar and your work all underneath it.

Numbers & Keynote

These two apps function much the same as their Microsoft brethren, obviously, but have a few critical features. Speed, design, and simplicity, now this is the normal Apple touch to any product (haven’t tried iMovie yet!) but there are still a lot of similarities.


As you know, Apple likes to stay in their own formats, but with iWork you are kept in the default, walled-in format; you do get some awesome export options, which makes up for it somewhat since you can’t set anything else as the default.

Keynote gives you Quicktime export (with some customization might I add), iPod export (same, you can customize it), HTML, Flash, PDF, Images, and P-P-P-PowerPoint.

Numbers gives you slightly less options: a PDF, Excel, or CSV file.


I’m not going to say this is the best feature of all 3 apps, but for novices and new users it really is helpful: templates. Yes, I said it, templates. It seems like that was what the all the discussion was about, call me a fanboy or call me weak minded and suppressible to RDF, but I said it, I like templates.

When I open an Excel or even Numbers worksheet I don’t want to take the time to do some advanced calculations. I should be able to get right into what I need to do and do it quickly.

Even then, that is not all Numbers and Keynote have to offer. It’s essentially the Mac version of Microsoft office but light years ahead of what is actually available (no, the templates leave no permanent scars). 

But I do have a beef about Numbers. Granted, Keynote needs to be a resource hog for what it needs to do, it runs quite well on my 6-year-old iBook (every time I load Safari I go out in the backyard and dig this Mac’s grave a little deeper…), but Numbers might as well be a 5-year-old riding on a scooter in a Nascar race with a set of bricks instead of wheels.


What I do like about all 3 apps (besides Templates, I said it for you, I am template crazy) is the straightforward interface. You have your toolbar, you can select what goes in it and you have your work directly underneath it, it’s that simple. Everything is at your fingertips and while it imitates the look and feel of Office, it feels as if Van Gogh and Picasso got together to beat some good design into it.

Final Word

Yes, I love iWork; Text Edit has left the dock and Microsoft Office, who knows where that is (I might have sold it on eBay but I cannot recollect, I seem to be out $79.99). But to wrap this up, I am disappointed about iWork, to clarify, about what is not there. 

We all know Apple could make this into something literally everyone will and want to use but restricted by one thing: brand recognition. Do you see iWork on the PC? No, but you sure do see Microsoft Office prominently displayed. People who are switchers are expecting Microsoft Office to just be there, to be able to buy it and and use it for tasks that would make Stickies yawn. Most switchers know nothing about iWork, take out Microsoft Office and you filter out a lot of potential (noob) customers.


  • Numbers is sensational.

    For 25 years, spreadsheet applications have been built with accountants in mind and their massive multi-sheet beasts.

    But many other people use spreadsheets, and a lot of the time for much smaller sheets full of tabular information.

    But they always looked crap. And dropping them into your documents was rather challenging to get right.

    Numbers addresses both of these issues (usage and presentation) and succeeds so brilliantly that it has Windows users drooling. It blows away everyone I show it to who’s ever used spreadsheets.

    Numbers is a killer app if Apple cares to exploit it.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 24, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • Numbers is frustrating.

    It has a brilliant, beautiful design and the thoughts behind it are wonderful. So it will get my $79, if nothing else to encourage the developers to do more.

    But I can crash it by just importing a 7,800 line CSV file and trying to change the format of two columns to currency. 

    I thought, well, maybe it’s time to dump my historic 1.5 year old PowerBook for a shiny new MacBook Pro.

    But then I went to the Apple Store and tried the same thing in their beautiful 2.4ghz dual core Intel MacBook Pro and it did the same thing :-(.

    That MacBook Pro ran Motion seamlessly, opened Safari in a single bounce and looked like my dream machine on steroids ... and then I tried to use Numbers.

    I sure hope Apple improves this.  It has so much promise!  I’d dump Excel in a heartbeat when it can work on bigger files without choking.


    David H Dennis had this to say on Aug 24, 2007 Posts: 7
  • For the record, I love the templates and find them to be THE main selling point for Pages and Keynote.  Pages in particular is an otherwise underwhelming (albeit cheap) layout app and word processor.

    The templates in Numbers are nice, as always, but ultimately a bit limited for business use, and maybe even less so for personal use.  Is there really a demand for beautiful looking spread sheets?

    I use Excel mostly for compiling animation breakdown charts for myself.  I’ve tried out Numbers for this and find the UI a bit cumbersome, although I’m sure that would improve after some practice.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 24, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I downloaded the trial version of iWork, primarily to check out the new Numbers app.

    At this point, I can’t see it replacing Excel. For one thing, Numbers doesn’t seem to fit well in my iBook’s 1024x768 screen space. The app feels very crowded - almost to the point of being unusable. Excel’s full width, multi-tab design seems more efficient.

    Also, some basic features aren’t there, or I’ve missed them. There is no “freeze pane” command and no ability to password protect a sheet.

    I have to agree that the design focus of Numbers is not a priority of mine.

    Lucky13 had this to say on Aug 25, 2007 Posts: 11
  • Templates are fab. Stack iWork’s preset formats next to the ones that come with Office and the words professional versus amateur instantly spring to mind.

    Neil Anderson had this to say on Aug 25, 2007 Posts: 23
  • the words professional versus amateur instantly spring to mind.

    I agree.  Office is clearly the one for professionals.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 25, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Numbers is an interesting app.

    I can definitely see how a consumer would prefer Numbers over Microsoft Excel.

    Nevertheless, power users will prefer Excel.

    There are some functions I can do in Excel that numbers doesn’t have.  Also, Numbers has no VBA programming interface like Excel does.

    I did like the charts in Numbers more than those in Excel, because they look prettier and are easier to work with.  Numbers is a great place to create good-looking spreadsheets quickly, but for true power users it falls short (it is after all, the first version so it can’t have everything already…).

    I bought Numbers figuring I can make some nice charts on it and also to fund this and Apple’s other initiatives into the enterprise world…

    alexpasch had this to say on Aug 26, 2007 Posts: 16
  • Numbers and Pages both look good.

    I’ve discovered a pretty glaring weakness: Pages hangs when attempting to Open or Import AppleWorks documents with graphics or spreadsheet objects embedded in word processing documents.

    Since iWork is aimed at AppleWorks users, this is a a pretty bad shortcoming. If Apple wants AppleWorks users, and there are MANY of us out there, to shell out $79 for this “upgrade”, then it better work!

    The writing has been on the wall for AppleWorks for a number of years, but Apple still needs to work on iWork. It also needs Filemaker Lite to complete the Suite.

    jeffharris had this to say on Aug 27, 2007 Posts: 11
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