iPad iWork 1.2 Update: Better Sync for Files, Office

One of my biggest gripes about iWork for iPad has been the absolutely unwarranted pain it was to get files onto and off of the device. For a company that prides itself on the user experience, file transfers from the web into Apple’s (s aapl) own suite of productivity apps was downright embarrassing.

The iWork 1.2 update for iPad brings about a whole host of welcome improvements, the best one in my opinion being the ability to import and export directly from iDisk, or any WebDAV-supported virtual disk. Dropbox isn’t WebDAV, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for Dropbox support.

Until now, Pages was the only one of the three apps that could export to its MS Office (s msft) counterpart, but now, all three can export to Office-compatible formats. I’m curious to see how well this will work with Keynote, since most Keynote files I’ve exported to PowerPoint look like they were victims of a vicious assault.

The apps now support grouped objects as well. For Keynote especially, this is a big plus for me, as you can define builds on grouped objects, and the groups remain intact when imported from the desktop version.

A small, but welcome change is support for importing .txt and .csv files for Pages and Numbers, respectively. You can’t export them, but at least you can work with them. These are all supported via the “Open As” command, so any app can inbound the files.

Pages gets another halfway-done feature with support for footnotes, endnotes, and sections on import and export. You can’t create these, but files you copy onto the iPad to work with won’t get mangled as part of the process. I’m hoping 1.3 allows users to create them.

I’ve always believed the feature set of the iWork suite was the best available for the iPad. The sticking issue for me was transfers. With the 1.2 update, I feel Apple has made some serious progress towards creating a fantastic productivity suite. So far, the only thing I can say is missing from Pages is creation of footnotes.

I also think Apple needs to address importing fonts since I use non-standard fonts for all my presentations. Now, with iDisk support I hope Apple also fixes general syncing issues, since it looks like I’ll be storing more mission-critical data up there in the cloud.

Full release notes for Numbers, Pages, and Keynote can be read via the App Store.

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