Apple rolled out a significant update to its suite of cloud-based productivity apps today as it continues to compete with Google and Microsoft for market share. Numbers, Pages and Keynote are all getting some much-needed upgrades including better collaboration and extra space for online storage. For now these changes are only available through the iCloud website, though we expect to see the same updates hit native iWork apps for OS X and iOS soon.
Across all three services, Apple now supports collaboration for up to 100 people at once—up from 50 before. All three apps also gained support for creating 2D and interactive charts along with enhanced formatting options. Despite these changes Numbers, Pages and Keynote are still listed as beta products.
Each app is also getting a few individual improvements. Apple has added ePub support for Pages along with improvements for tablets and object layering. Numbers will let you export to CSV, and Keynote lets you decide to hide or show slide numbers.
When it comes to getting work done in the cloud, Google took an early lead with Google Docs, introducing much of the world to the magic of online collaboration. Microsoft is doing its best to catch up, recently bringing Office to the iPad. Apple may be at a bit of a disadvantage, but its iWork apps come free with new iOS devices, creating a built-in user base. Today’s update should help keep those users from looking elsewhere for productivity services.