What it is: Apple released an updated version of iWork.
Somewhat lost in all the recent announcements about the iPhone 7 and macOS Sierra is the news that Apple updated their iWork suite, most notably with real-time collaboration. That means two or more people uses Pages or Keynote on different devices can work on the same document over the Internet. Even Windows and Linux users can participate if they use the online version of iWork.
Essentially the world of office suites is divided into several categories. For power users, Microsoft Office still reigns supreme. The general consensus is that most people only use 10% of Microsoft Office’s features, but everyone tends to need a different 10%. That’s why Microsoft Office contains so many features, but in exchange for advanced features, you have to put up with complexity.
For non-power users, the choices are more varied. Google Docs is popular because it’s simple and offers real-time collaboration, which Microsoft Office added and iWork just recently included as well. For Apple users, iWork is popular because its user interface is generally easier to understand than Google Docs.
So the big three office suites are Microsoft Office, Google Docs, and iWork. If you need advanced features, Microsoft Office is still the best choice. If you need simplicity, then Google Docs and iWork are far better choices. Far too many people get suckered into relying on Microsoft Office simply because it’s what they use at work so they want to use it at home too. While this reduces the need to learn another program, it also burdens most people with dealing with the less than intuitive user interface of Microsoft Office too.
Google Docs helped define the idea of real-time collaboration, regardless of the operating system you’re using, so if you want real-time collaboration with simple documents, then Google Docs works just fine. Best of all, it’s free.
If you bought an Apple product such as a Macintosh or iPhone, iWork is also free. By catering to casual users, iWork is mostly competing against Google Docs, not Microsoft Office. Comparing iWork to Microsoft Office is like comparing a compact car to a main battle tank. You would never substitute one for the other.
So the question boils down to what you need. Number crunchers need Excel so that makes Microsoft Office an obvious choice. If you give presentations, Keynote is generally considered superior to PowerPoint, so if presentations are your main focus, then iWork will probably be a better choice. If you need real-time collaboration with others, Google Docs still reigns king despite real-time collaboration features added to Microsoft Office and iWork.
In short, there’s no single best office suite for everyone. Google Docs and iWork may be free, so give them a try before buying Microsoft Office. Sometimes a free product can do the job and sometimes it can’t. But since it’s free, you might as well try it before spending money on something that may be too complicated for you to use. After all, the best software is the one that’s easiest for you to use regardless of what anyone else thinks.