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A post on TechCrunch today reports that Apple’s iWork for iCloud—a service designed to allow users to synchronize business-friendly apps between users’ local drives and data stored in the cloud—has been opened up to curious users in a public beta. First unveiled at WWDC this summer, iWork for iCloud will likely be a favorite application of Apple’s loyal user base.

The post points out that if you have an Apple ID, you can easily sign in at iCloud’s site and give it a whirl. Included in the suite of applications will be Numbers, Pages, and Keynote, the Apple-made equivalents of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. And as long as you’ve got all your Apple-made devices synced with the same ID, creating a document in Pages should sync across all your gadgets. That means that if you work on a new document at home on your Macbook and save it to iCloud, you’ll then be able to grab your iPad and continue working at the coffee shop down the street. Later on, if you’re stuck sitting at a meeting, you can get right back to work on fixing typos with your iPhone.

As great as all that sounds, the TechCrunch post rightly points out that it’s not clear right now what fees—if any—Apple will charge its users to take advantage of this cloud-based wonderfulness. Currently, Office 365 offers a few different plans, starting at $60 for one user for a year, or $6 per month for a yearly cost of $72. Currently the beta period for iCloud is free, but don’t be surprised if Apple sees a place it can earn some cash from its users.

Of course, when you compare all of this to Google’s Drive—which is free to everyone—getting charged any amount feels a little harsh.

For the longest time, the divide between devotees of Apple and Microsoft was fairly clear in its delineation. Microsoft was for people who did business, what with its suite of word processing and spreadsheet apps—and let’s not forget about the all-important PowerPoint. Meanwhile, artists and other “creative” flocked toward Apple’s products, with its inspired designs and visual arts-focused applications. But these days, both companies are moving toward the middle, with Windows 8’s tiled Metro user interface and Apple’s emphasis on providing productivity software possibilities for its users. Now that iWork for iCloud will be going head-to-head against Microsoft’s Office 365, it’ll be interesting to see what other “lessons” each company “learns” from the other.


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