For more than a decade now I've been hunting for the ideal pocket word processing kit, for obvious reasons. I've gotten arbitrarily close on occasion, only to be disappointed by excessive hype or defeated by my own aging eyeballs ... but I really thought iWork on the iPhone was going to be it. Alas, the disappointment is all the worse ...
Apple today announced an update to iWork — Pages now runs on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Add one of these keyboards to Pages on an iPhone and it should do the job. Pages has, over the past year, replaced both OpenOffice and Microsoft Word as the gadget I go to when I need a word processor — uncomplicated but powerful, with good page layout and aesthetics, and enough functionality to do what I need to integrate my workflow with my publishers. (Who like to use Word documents with change tracking for copy edits these days: I think Cthulhu has taken over their IT departments, but I can't buck that particular trend easily.)
Unfortunately they managed — very unusually for Apple — to cock up Pages on the iPhone completely. They did this by focusing on page layout so single-mindedly that they've produced a word processor you can't write (or edit) with.
That's not to say that it won't display Pages for Mac or iPad documents beautifully. If all you want to do is look at a 3" high picture of a printed page, it's brilliant. However, it's missing two critically important features, without which you can't actually write on it. Firstly, it doesn't support landscape rotation. You're stuck looking at the picture of a page in portrait orientation — which, if you write double-spaced documents in 10 point Courier on 12 point spacing (standard publisher's manuscript format since the year zero), is utterly illegible. More annoyingly, if you pinch-zoom to look at the text Pages doesn't rewrap the text to fit within the screen width; you end up looking at a clipped window on the page.
What were they thinking? What use is a word processor that doesn't actually let you see text and edit it unless you set up your document template to use a single 6 centimetre wide column on A4 pages?
For once Apple's single-minded focus on aesthetics and design has caused them to emit a turkey that can only be described as not fit for purpose. I suspect there's a moral in this somewhere ...
In other news, here is a cat who begs like a dog.