Apple is meeting Microsoft head on by providing a complimentary copy of its iWork productivity suite with every new smart phone and tablet. The latest iPhone and iPad includes the productivity suite, previously available as a paid for download, from the moment you first sign in to the Apple app store on your gleaming new device.
You get Pages, Apple's answer to Microsoft Word, Keynote, the equivalent of PowerPoint, and Numbers, which is similar to Excel. You also get iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, which are image, video and music editing apps, as part of the package. This is great news if you're an Apple devotee in the market for a new smartphone or tablet - previously opening an attached Office document on an iPhone or iPad was doable but impossible to edit without purchasing iWork or other apps.
The latest iPhones, the 5S and 5C, have larger screens than their predecessors bar the iPhone 5 and the iPad Air is thinner and lighter than the models it follows. There's rumour, too, of new models on the way soon.
The iWork suite uses both its own file formats as well as Microsoft's so you can create and save a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file in the latest Microsoft format with no worries.
Both Apple and Microsoft use cloud based storage, a virtual personal hard disk drive online, to store your files. For Apple it's called iCloud. Microsoft's is called SkyDrive. Both enable you to open your files from any device with an internet connection and a web browser. Apple's move is, without doubt, a response to its losing market share to its competitors.
Microsoft has included a complimentary mobile version of its Office productivity suite on every smartphone running its Windows Phone since 2009 and Microsoft New Zealand chief executive Paul Muckleston recently revealed Windows Phone had reached 15 per cent market share in New Zealand. That still leave the dominant mobile operating system, Google's Android, with a mixed bag of apps for creating and editing Office style documents on the go. None of them match what Apple and Microsoft are offering for free.