Yesterday Apple updated its iWork apps for iOS: Pages, Keynote and Numbers. There are lots of new features in version 1.7 of these apps, and Leah Yamshon of Macworld provides a good overview. I want to dig deeper on just one new feature because it is so critical to most lawyers: the ability to track changes to a word processing document. The good news is that the feature works well for viewing and creating redline edits. The bad news is that the app doesn't give you an easy way to review all edits at once, and there is no support for Comments.
I am often out of the office when I am sent a Word document containing redline edits that I need to read. When it comes to just reading a document and seeing the edits, version 1.7 of the Pages app works quite well. When you first open a document in Pages containing redline edits, you will only see what is added, not what is deleted. To see both, tap the Tools icon, tap Change Tracking, and then change the view from the default setting of Markup Without Deletions to Markup. With this change, you will see additions in a different color and deletions in that different color but with strikethrough. For example, you might see something like this if an amount is changed from $500,000 to $100,000: $500100,000.
If multiple authors have changed a document, you will see the changes of each author in a different color. The Pages app doesn't show you the name of each author, but when you send an edited document back to a computer running Word, changes made by the iPad or iPhone will use the name of your iPad or iPhone as the author. For example, changes that I made with my iPad showed up on my computer as being made by "Jeff's iPad." If you use a wacky name for your iPad or iPhone, keep this in mind before you send redline edits to a client.
You can also accept or reject edits in Pages 1.7. To do so, double-tap on an edit, andthen select Accept or Reject from the pop-up menu.
Unfortunately, Pages 1.7 does not include a review mode in which you can view a change and decide to accept or reject it and then instantly go to the next change. Instead, you must double-tap on each change to accept or reject it. When Quickoffice Pro added a track changes feature this past October, it did include this feature, as I noted in my review. However, Quickoffice Pro doesn't currently support footnotes, which prevents me from using it on most of my litigation documents. Pages, on the other hand, includes the best support for footnotes that I have seen in any iPad or iPhone app.
The biggest shortcoming that I see with Pages 1.7 is that it still does not support the Comments feature of Microsoft Word. I myself don't use the feature — when I am editing a document and I want to say something, I usually just type it in bold and highlight my words — but I work with several other people who do use that feature when they send me a redlined document. If you try to open a document in Pages that contains Comments, Pages will warn you after it converts the document from Word to Pages format that it has deleted all of the Comments. This warning is presented to you on the iPad like this. (I added the red circle to emphasize where you need to look.)
On the smaller iPhone screen, you instead just get a warning that "This document may look different on your iOS device" and you need to tap a button marked "View Details" to see a list of warnings that the iPad shows automatically.
If someone emails you a document with edits and you see that warning after opening up the file in Pages, I recommend that you go back to the email and open up the document in another app that does show Comments such as Documents to Go, Office2 or (if you don't care about footnotes) Quickoffice Pro.
Track changes support has long been the Holy Grail for many litigators using an iPad or iPhone. For the most part, I really like the way that Apple implemented this feature in the latest version of Pages. I wish that the update included a better way to review each edit, but for the most part I suspect that I'll just scroll through a document and look at the redline edits in the context of the document as a whole so this omission is not critical for me. The lack of support for Comments will sometimes be a problem (depending upon how often you work with people who use that feature), but as long as you know about it and have an app like Documents to Go, Office2 or Quickoffice Pro, you can work around the Comments omission when it becomes an issue.
I have long been a fan of Pages because it is a powerful, rock solid app. For example, Pages is my preferred app for creating Word documents on the iPad. And if I am in a meeting and I am typing notes on my iPad using a Bluetooth keyboard, Pages is the app that I always use. With the new track changes feature, I strongly suspect that Pages will also become my favorite app for viewing and creating redline edits on the iPad.
I rarely create redline edits on my iPhone, but if I need to do so, I suspect I'll use Pages there too. For simply viewing redline edits on my iPhone, I still prefer using Documents to Go because it has the best pinch to zoom implementation of any other word processing app, and with the iPhone's smaller screen I find that it really helps to have an elegant way to make the text larger.
The other apps I discussed above: