When it comes to sales and adoption, Apple seems to win out over Microsoft, but it’s no secret that Microsoft leads in the business space. With recent updates and product launches like the iPad Pro and new Apple TV, it appears that Apple is making an attempt to become much more business friendly. Up until now we haven’t seen much action with their iWork suite of products, but in the wake of Microsoft’s Office 2016 launch, we’re seeing some interesting (and maybe familiar) improvements to the iWork suite.

Collaboration in Pages
In our rundown of Microsoft Office 2016, we discussed how amazing it was that Microsoft finally delivered live collaboration for documents. Apple seems to have also integrated additional collaboration features, though perhaps a little less robust. The web versions of the iWork applications allow you to share documents with additional password-protected or view only options. You can comment and browse version history from your browser as well. It’s not quite the live editing that Word 2016 allows for, but it is an upgrade.

iPad Improvements
The most important part of iWork is that the cross-device compatibility is always reliable. Apple has made it even more so by allowing for multitasking in Slide Over, Split View and Picture in Picture on iPad. Here are a few more:

  • iPad added a new Shortcut Bar for Pages
  • Multi-touch gestures on iPad
  • Use keyboard shortcuts when connected to wireless keyboard
  • Handoff seamlessly allows you to switch between iPad, Mac and iPhone

Plays Nice(r)
Apple has gone ahead and recognized the wide use of Microsoft Office and improved Pages and Numbers compatibility for charts, text overflows and nonrectangular masks. It also allows you to export password-protected documents to DOCX, PPTX.

Design Tools
They’ve made some minor adjustments to their design tools as well. Most of them are usability improvements, but they’re noteworthy nonetheless:

  • Take photos or videos without leaving the app
  • More colors
  • Custom color mixer on iPad
  • Sample any color in your document with color picker and apply it anywhere
  • Insert inline images
  • Better placement of inserted objects

If you didn’t know what VoiceOver is, it’s basically Apple’s attempt to dictate everything on your screen. This is going to be important for them as they attempt to bring voice recognition, usability and the new pen integration into play. They’ve made some heavy improvements into this application across the iWork suite, including the ability to add and review comments and edit data.

For the full list of updates and improvements, check out Apple’s website. While many may think they’re making an attempt to compete with Office, it’s less about that and more about ensuring infrastructure remains stable. While Apple will always do everything they can do keep up with Microsoft’s Office suite, it appears that right now they’re situating their tools for some really powerful integration. We’ll be interested to see how the Apple TV, iPad Pro and iPhone integrate more easily into Mac-friendly businesses with the help of these iWork changes.