PAGES AND THE IPAD
How excited I was to dream of Pages living in the Apple-lined cloud where I could create and edit my documents from anywhere at anytime with those files being served from one location with an ingenious silky-smooth Apple syncing system keeping all of my devices current and up to date. Let’s call it, MobileMe 2.0.
Fast forward to reality setting in. As I started out on my enthusiastic journey toward the promise-land of Pages on the iPad and cloud ubiquity, I was rudely awakened from my euphoric haze by the sad realities that are the limitations of Pages on the iPad. Don’t get me wrong, as a document creation and edit App, Pages is beautiful, full featured, and a testament to the unequalled ability of Apple to create software unlike any other in the industry.
With that being said, Apple failed to really see the big picture with their iWorks Suite for the iPad. Failing to take advantage of the powerhouse that is the integration of their own hardware, software, and online services, Apple’s first attempt, iWork.com, does not provide the kind of elegantly-useful interface and capability we have come to expect from the gods of Mount Cupertino. Reality can be a cruel master.
FRUSTRATION IS THE MOTHER OF INGENUITY
There were many reasons why I wanted an iPad. It is beautiful and sexy. It is a great device for surfing the net, reading your mail and the occasional e-book, watching videos, and listening to many different types of audio content. Beyond these Apple-intended uses, I can use the iPad as an interactive electronic portfolio to beautifully display my work to potential customers.
All of these uses are great and worth the price of admission. However, my underlying reason for purchasing the iPad was productivity. I wanted to leave my workhorse MacBook Pro i7 tied up at my office watering hole where it was free sip power under the sprawling shade of my Cinema Display. However, if this was ever going to be possible, I needed a solution that would allow me to access, edit, or even create documents from all of my internet connected devices.
They say, frustration is the mother of ingenuity. Well, that is not exactly what they say, but someone should have said it. I think I just did. Any-who… As I was searching for a workaround to enable a somewhat less convoluted way to import/export documents to/from Pages for iPad, I discovered a couple of diamonds most definitely not in the rough.
THE SILVER LINING IN THE CLOUD
The first piece of the puzzle was to find an online storage solution which met my requirements: a desktop, iPhone/iPad, and browser client, a feature rich and intuitive interface, and a reasonable cost. Enter Dropbox for the iPhone/iPad and the desktop.
I had heard a great deal about Dropbox prior to checking it out for myself. I knew if I was going to create a viable Pages workaround, my files would need to be served from the cloud. Dropbox offered clients for all of my devices, a great interface, compatibility with a number of other cloud services (including Google Docs), and all for the very reasonable price of, free. As I loaded the clients onto my MBP and iPad, I was very impressed with the design and implementation of the software. I loaded a few files into the desktop client and checked their availability on the iPad client. Everything was there immediately. Ironically, Dropbox would even allow MS Word docs to be opened in Pages for the iPad. The problem arose when I wanted to save those documents from Pages back to Dropbox for editing on one of my other devices later. Indeed, this limitation is the Achilles’ heel of Pages for iPad and something I hope Apple will correct soon.
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
I had purchased the standard iPhone version of Documents To Go from DataViz some time back as a way to edit my docs on the iPhone. During my research for the Pages workaround, I learned that Documents To Go Premium had been updated to include Dropbox, Google Docs, and a host of other compatibility and usability improvements. The pieces were beginning to fall into place.
Having updated my standard version of Documents To Go to the Premium version, I immediately added my Dropbox and Google Docs accounts and was instantly refreshed by the cool breeze of my files finally being device-agnostic. No matter which of my devices I found myself using, my files would always be accessible, updated, and editable. If this wasn’t enough, this all happened seamlessly in the background. Is this really happening, or am I dreaming?
I have been working with this solution for a few days now and I have to say that it is wonderfully liberating. For instance. I was at my local Panera Bread (free WiFi and freshly baked blueberry scones) this afternoon with only my iPad and a desire for a freshly baked blueberry scone, when I decided to write this article to chronicle my journey. With my iPad serenading me in the background, I loaded Documents To Go, opened a new Word doc, and started writing. About an hour later, it was time to head for the home watering hole and my trusty i7 steed. I rolled into my office, threw down my saddlebags, clicked on my desktop Dropbox folder and there was my article staring back at me as though it had been magically transported there by Scotty. The immediate smile on my face and sense of elation and joy coursing through my body was something only a Geek would understand. I thought I heard a faint version of the Hallelujah chorus in the distance. My next task, call the printer and order my new Sunday-go-to-meeting shirt that proudly proclaims, “DEVICE-AGNOSTIC!”