Pages is the iWorks word processor and contains most of what a home or small office customer would want. Typical modern features like real-time spell check and definition dictionary – The Oxford American Dictionary – and footnotes (though not endnotes) are all in place, but there’s also change tracking, so you can share documents and peer review them.
New to Pages ’08 are dual modes of working: page layout mode for designing graphic-intensive documents like catalogues and fliers and word processing mode for longer, text-heavy pages. Surprisingly, it’s the word processing mode which is the new addition.
It’s almost like having two applications in one, a feeling strengthened by the fact that you can’t switch between page layout and word processing modes on the fly. Indeed, documents created in one mode can’t be easily opened in the other. This means you have to decide from the outset how complex your document will be – not always easy.
In page layout mode, text is written in frames and you can link them, even between pages, and move pictures and graphics around with comparative freedom. As with Numbers, you can incorporate audio, photos and videos into Pages documents.
There are a lot of pre-designed templates, too, and these are well up to Apple’s usual standard. Many of them are multi-page designs, which you can use pretty much as is, simply by replacing the text and pictures in placeholders on the pages. Templates throughout iWork ’08 are well thought out and there’s a good range of document types.
The biggest problem with Pages, and this runs throughout iWork ’08, is the lack of an autosave feature. While Apple might like us to think Mac software never falls over, those that use it regularly know this isn’t the case. Without a saved back-up, a crash can leave you with a lot of re-work. Having said that, iWork behaved perfectly during our tests.