Real-Time Collaboration: A Much-Needed iWork Update for Education

“Teachers, students love creating stunning documents and presentations, and even spreadsheets”

-Tim Cook, Apple Special Event, September 7, 2016 (Photo: Apple)

Apple very recently announced a great new feature for its iWork apps. This will apply to all devices: iPad, iPhone, Mac and even iWork on the web. This was a very welcome announcement for all users of iWork who (wish to) work collaboratively with others.

A previous gripe for me about iWork was that collaboration was not really an option. Sure, you could share your iWork documents via iCloud to friends and colleagues, but as soon as you made changes, their local copy of that document would be outdated. They would have your edits as long as they kept opening it from the share link via email, but because of this, real-time collaboration was not possible. This is why I moved toward using Google Docs when creating anything that needed to have any type of collaboration, such as working with other educators, students, and writers.

Credit: Apple

Apple admitted themselves that (before this new feature), in iWork, there “is just not a great way for people, for classmates and colleagues to work, to create projects together.” –Susan Prescott, September 7, 2016

Now, with what Apple calls “Real-time collaboration”, MacOS and iOS users can work simultaneously on the same document. Invite anyone to edit. Users will then have an assigned colour (not dissimilar to Google Docs) so that everyone can see which changes are made. You will see a coloured bubble with the name what was made/added.

During her presentation, Susan Prescott, VP of worldwide apps product marketing, showed people working simultaneously on a Keynote document. It seemed to flow seamlessly and in real time. The work being done was shown on the large screen to the entire audience, and it looked very impressive. We could see in the thumbnails on the left column exactly who was adding what.

I am very much looking forward to trying this out when it becomes released. I see this working very well for classes. Students will be able to work on their own devices in class (and at home) to create great looking projects and presentations. I love that it works on Mac and iOS, so people can choose to use whichever device they have on hand. I wonder if I will move back to iWork from Google docs. We shall see.

Look for free updates to your iWork apps to have real-time collaboration on your Mac and iOS devices soon!

What is your office suite of choice when working? MS Office? Google Docs? iWork? Please let us know in the comments!

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