Friday, April 18, 2014

Office For iPad (and do we really care ?)

Office for iPad has been released (and do we really care ?). 
Microsoft have finally released a version of Office specifically designed for the iPad. It consists of 3 apps (Word, Powerpoint and Excel) plus the OneNote app that was released a while ago. What are they like? 
Well -in fairness to Microsoft - they haven't done a bad job. The apps have been designed specifically for the iPad and it shows. They work smoothly - without all the clutter that the desktop versions have ( I know some people will say you can hide all the tools on the desktop version - but I have always found you need some things showing and are stuck with them all). 
Out of all the apps Word and OneNote are the best.  Word has most of the functions you would want but with one major omission ! You can't print. Maybe this will be fixed in the future. OneNote is fairly good. I have been using it for a while. It links nicely with your desktop version (whether windows or Mac - in case you didn't know -there is a desktop version for Mac now). It doesn't do audio and a few other features that are in the desktop version. But for an iPad app - pretty good. Powerpoint was never as good as Keynote on the desktop and that is still the case with the apps. If you really need to view presentations done on a windows machine then it might be handy. But then again Keynote will run Powerpoint presentations as well. Excel is often the default for people who do a lot of spreadsheets and will probably remain so. It appears to have most of the functions people need. I am not an extensive user of spreadsheets and find apples Numbers and Google Sheets fill my needs.
For people who want to view Office documents, as they were rendered,  on the iPad - then Office is a big win.  Also, one aspect I am impressed with - the ability to insert tables. It is one of the reasons I have always come back to Pages for my note taking on the iPad. Very few apps will enable you to insert tables on the iPad. Pages will and now so will Word and OneNote.
Will I personally be using Office for iPad in the future ? No I won't. Mainly for the same reason that very few Educational orgaisations will as well. You can download the apps for free (Microsoft boasted that Office had 12 million downloads in the first week) - but you can't use them without an Office subscription at $99 a year. No organisation I know of has moved past Office 2010 or 2013 for this very reason. You have been able to edit and save Office files with other apps for a while now - so there are already other things in place if you need them. iWorks is free and actually contains more features then Office.  Fraser Speirs did an interesting comparison between the two.
I identified 75 word processing features and compared Word, Pages and GDrive on iOS. Pages has 61, Word 57, Google Drive….18.Of 54 high-level spreadsheet features: Excel: 39; Numbers: 42; Google Drive: 23.
For people who really need Office and already have a subscription - then they are fairly sound apps and will do a good job.

For the rest of us. iWorks is free. Keynote still outshines any other presentation app on the iPad. Pages is still the smoothest word processor on the iPad. Other apps will view and edit Office documents when needed. Then there is also Google Docs. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

OneNote for Mac

How does OneNote hold up on the Mac? Today Microsoft finally released a version of OneNote for Mac (free - I might add !). So - how does it compare ?
Ironically - I have just been attending a 2 day course on “21st Century Learning Design”. All centred around Microsoft OneNote.
You might ask why I was at a Microsoft centred course?  Well - the idea is quality teaching and learning - regardless of brand. It also had to do with higher order thinking and assessing the quality of your own teaching units. It just so happened to be delivered by a Microsoft sponsored Educational partner. I like to think of myself as “ above any brand” - I just prefer Mac products for myself and I do feel they are the best for Education. They just aren’t supported (for Education) in this area of Australia.

Do Microsoft make good products ? Of course they do ! People claim Office is the defacto standard. I have and use Word (for Mac) - but I must admit I prefer Pages. I like it as a Word Processor on the Mac and is really the only thing that works smoothly on the iPad (especially for tables). But most people say that “Word” is the default norm. As I say - I don’t really need it. “But it is so powerful Terry - nothing comes close !” My view on that is 5% of the population use 90% of its functions and 90% of the population use 5% of its functions. But I still have it and use it (on occasions).

So -what about OneNote ? OneNote has been available for ipad for a while now. I must admit - it is not a bad product.  I use it quite regularly. It can do tables, pictures, hyperlinks etc. The tables aspect is very handy because not many programs do tables well on the ipad. Pages is the best by far - so having OneNote do them on the ipad is very handy indeed.
Now - the Mac version. How does it stack up ? Very similar to the ipad version. It can do text anywhere on the page, tables, pictures, tags and any form of text.  But unfortunately it doesn’t cut it for a computer program. We expect a few more features than for a tablet. It doesn’t have the audio, picture or video aspects of the windows version. Mac users have been using either Growly Notes ( which will do all the functions of Windows OneNote) or Evernote (which you can use across all devices and platforms. I use both. The advantage of one is the weakness of the other. Growly Notes can just about do anything. The notebooks include audio, video, pdf’s, word  - just about any file you want. The disadvantage is, it is only for Mac. No ipad version, (although they are working on one). This is Evernote's main advantage. It is across all platforms. It also can incorporate audio, video and so on.

People seem to think that OneNote for Mac is to try and stop the growth of Evernote. Unless they are going to bring some of these features into the Mac version I don’t think a lot of people will bother.

The layout of OneNote on the Mac looks nice. It is handy if you don’t need the extra functions. But at this stage I can’t see a lot of people changing over. They may add features in the future, which might make it a worthwhile program. I am sure a lot of people will download it out of curiosity (it is free) and give Microsoft boasting rights, but at this stage - anyone using Evernote or Growly Notes is not going to give it more than a passing glance.

My advise for the moment. Stick with Growly Notes if you only use a Mac. Use Evernote if you need to go across platforms.