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Monday, October 28, 2013, 11:58 pm PT (02:58 am ET)

Apple faces backlash over missing, changed functions in iWork revamp

A growing number of iWork users have taken to Apple's Support Communities forums to air complaints about the numerous changes Apple made to its productivity suite, which some say is now unusable.

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At Apple's iPad event last week, the company debuted all-new, redesigned iWork apps for both OS X and iOS, touting the changes as part of the suite's biggest update ever. It appears, however, that a significant number of users have not taken kindly to those tweaks.

As with any software update, not everyone will be pleased by feature additions and omissions, but a look at Apple's Support Communities shows a rising tide of discontent from longtime iWork users. Anecdotally, AppleInsider readers have also voiced their complaints as to the apps' modifications.

One of the more active forum threads deals with the new Pages app for OS X. Started one day after the updates rolled out, the discussion consists of a rolling list of features "missing" or "removed" from Pages version 5.0. So far, the thread has racked up over 18,500 views and 235 replies over the past five days.

Among the more prominent feature "nerfs" are the removal of Pages' floating Inspector Tool, deleted templates, non-configurable toolbars, no vertical ruler, no format bar, and merge field functionality, along with many others.

Adding to users' frustration, opening Pages documents created in older versions of the app will automatically translate the file into a form editable by the new software, meaning unsupported assets may be discarded. For example, a few users complained of a conversion error that deletes table data. If these changes are saved in version 5.0, there is no way to recover the complete document unless it was backed-up or duplicated.

As for Numbers, a similar thread listing the new app's deficiencies was posted by a different forum member. The discussion has been visited over 8,300 times and carries 137 replies. Users complain of missing spreadsheet cell management functions, the removal of selected row sorting and the inability to set margins, among other changes.

Apple is no stranger to negative feedback spurred by a revamp of popular software. A similar situation occurred with Final Cut Pro X in 2011, when professionals panned the video editing tool as being inferior to its predecessor. In response, Apple quickly issued an update to reinstate some of the more-requested features, introduced a free trial program and, in some cases, offered refunds to dissatisfied customers.

With Apple making iWork free with the purchase of a new Mac or iOS device, the company is looking to expand the number of people using its productivity products in the face of competition from market leader Microsoft. It should be noted that while some users are vocal about their disdain for the new apps, many others are quite happy, saying the updates offer a more cohesive experience across the Mac and iOS ecosystems.