Pages for iOS may not be as sophisticated as other desktop word-processing apps, but it packs plenty of punch when you just want a way to produce nice-looking documents on the go. After only a few minutes playing around with the controls, we were able to create documents with stylized text, imported images, tables, and graphs, and make formatting changes on-the-fly, all using the touch-screen keyboard. The program comes with 16 Apple-designed templates to start from, including standard letters, letters with photos, resume layouts, project reports, and many more. With Apple's keyboard dock connected, Pages performed much like a word processor on a desktop computer, with the one major difference of using the touch screen, rather than a mouse, to perform formatting and other file management actions. On the iPhone, a newly added Smart Zoom feature lets you focus in on the job at hand, but the smaller screen real estate makes working a little cramped. Still, it's definitely convenient to be able to edit documents quickly on your phone.
Pages offers several text-formatting options right in the ruler at the top of the screen. Change fonts and font size, bold or italicize text, underline words, and more all from the top of any document. If you want to change Web standard heading and text sizes, highlight the text in question, touch the "i" button at the top of the screen, then scroll through the available options. This particular set of menus is where you'll find text alignment options as well as useful tools for creating lists and other layout options. Alternatively, fonts can be changed using the same menu, but you'll need to scroll to the bottom to select Text Options to change fonts, font size, and text color for your selection.
Though Pages for iOS doesn't have as many features as a desktop word processor, the features it does have are both smart and useful for writing on the go. A button in the top part of the interface lets you bring in images, tables, and graphs with only a few touches of your finger. Once placed, you can resize an image and the text automatically wraps around it on the fly. A two-finger touch lets you rotate the image so you can make your document look exactly the way you want. Similarly, once a table is placed, you can add columns or rows and edit the title fields to your specs all with a few touches of the screen. Graphs offer the same smart functionality found in iWork for the desktop, letting you double-tap a part of the graph to edit the spreadsheet from where the data is drawn, changing the visual representation of the data in your document automatically. Pages comes with auto spell check and document edge guides to make sure your work is error-free and fits within standard document sizes, but each of these can be turned off in the settings if your work requires a more customized approach.
Recent updates to Pages added even more features to Apple's iOS word processor. With an iPhone 4S, you can edit documents in Pages through dictation. Students (and many others) will appreciate the addition of footnotes and endnotes for more-complex projects. Apple has also improved word, paragraph, and page counts so you can get document stats quickly. In the latest version released alongside the the new iPad, you now have the ability to add 3D graphs and charts that can be rotated once they're placed in your document.
When you're done with your project in Pages, you have a few options for what to do with your document. You can send the document via e-mail, share the document on iWork.com (registration with Apple required), print the document to a local printer using AirPrint, or export your work in Pages format, PDF, or Microsoft's DOC format. Also, if you are connected to iTunes, you can quickly export your document to your desktop and finish the job there.
Overall, we think Pages is an excellent word processor for the iOS, with just enough features to make great-looking documents wherever you are. Though it is not as complex as desktop word processors, and a little harder to use on the iPhone than the iPad, the features offered are perfect for when you need to work on the go. In any case, even with tons of word-processing apps in the iTunes App Store, for word processing on iOS, Pages is still the app to beat.