MacBook, iPhone and iPad users just got these useful free upgrades

Apple has updated its iWork apps again with some small but significant new features

Apple iWork apps being shown on iPhone, iPad and MacBook
(Image credit: Apple)

I think Apple's iWork apps are exceptional value for no money: they're free to every MacBook, iPhone and iPad owner, and there isn't a day that passes when I don't use at least one of them. Apple doesn't generally make a big song and dance about updating them, so new features have a tendency to just appear overnight. That's definitely the case with the latest updates, which add new features but just appeared without any fanfare.

The new features are available in the presentation app Keynote, the spreadsheet app Numbers and the word processing and desktop publishing app Pages. If you don't already have the apps you can get them from the App Store and Mac App Store; if you do, they should update automatically.

Here's what's new.

New features in Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Numbers is the least interesting app here: Apple's solid spreadsheet app doesn't get anything particularly exciting beyond better performance when you're adding rows and columns to large tables. But the word processing app Pages gets some smart new templates, the long-awaited ability to export in plain TXT files – something I've been wishing for for years – and a business-friendly mail merge feature that enables you to create not just letters but personalised cards and envelopes to send to multiple recipients. 

The other key changes are in the beautiful presentation app Keynote. You can now use dynamic backgrounds, which move subtly as you change from slide to slide. There's a collection of new animated themes that include some of those backgrounds, and there's also a new skip/unskip option for slides in a collapsed group.

There's nothing here to set the heather on fire, I know, because these are very mature apps: I've been using Pages since its debut in 2005, and it's gone through so much evolution that my features wish list would benefit absolutely nobody else but me. But it's good to see that Apple continues to tinker with the iWork apps. As another big firm likes to say, every little helps.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).