In the course of work and university I've been jumping a bit between Word, Pages and Docs for various reasons. I thought it might be useful to compare them. Let's start.
- Google Docs is included either in a free Gmail account or G-Suite. Its available for free on your mobile device with native apps on iOS and Android
- Pages is $30.99 and can be found in the Apple Store. It's included in iOS on the iPhone or iPad
- Word is part of the Microsoft Office Suite. The cheapest of which is Office365 Personal (for Mac) which is $89 inc GST per year (See the Microsoft Office pricing page here). Includes a licence for a single mobile device
On price Docs is the obvious winner. Free to get access to and solid support on mobile devices.
All three of these applications are very useable - but which one is *most* usable? Google Docs is a clean, uncluttered interface with relatively few options available:
Simple and uncluttered with everything there and looking like every single other word processor through history.
Pages has a different take on it, and one that can be a bit confusing to begin with.
The sidebar gets added into the mix, and many controls are moved out of the top menu and into here. I don't mind this personally, but I do find on the MacBook that I dislike losing the screen real estate to this menu. It is functional though.
Word has the infamous "ribbon". This is the Office365 version of it:
Since Microsoft changed the menu titles back to being in regular capitals / lower case, the readability of these menus has improved immensely. I remember when the ribbon came out and people loathed it. It just is now and I find it to be quite useful. The drawback for me with Microsoft Word is the sheer number of options available. We are spoiled for choice, control and capabilities and it can be overwhelming at times.
The usability winner is a totally individual choice and I leave it up to you to decide. Personally I like Pages but I'm ok getting around all three.
This is a big one to consider. Word has clearly got it all (and most users will touch about 10% of it's capabilities day to day). Pages is likewise heavy on features and Docs comes in last, with its smaller range of functions. I think because Docs is web based then it was forced into more simplistic functionality and Google had to really choose the key word processing capabilities to include.
There is one function that stands Word out from Pages though in these heavy hitters. The ability to have a section in landscape, while the rest of the document is in portrait is not available in Pages (that I could find). Now most people probably won't care about this overly, but for me, if I'm inserting a large landscape graphic or big table it is critical and stupid Pages won't do it. Very frustrating. I've never really tried it in Docs, but a 3 second Google search shows it's not possible. Word wins for this!
All three offerings have Table of Content, header, footer, page numbers, insert stuff blah blah - you get the drift. All the basics and day-to-day stuff is there, and its only the more advanced activities where they are differentiated.
Which one is the prettiest? A very subjective question of course. It should be noted that Apple have spent a lot of time on fonts and appearance, but so have Google and Microsoft (they just aren't as talked about). This is up to you - but I rank them Pages, Docs, and Word. Word is a bit busy for me - lots going on and when I'm working on an assignment or report I need clarity. Docs is very good for this, but something about the Pages appearance appeals to me.
Things to note about the different applications
Pages is Apple centric - don't bother looking for it on anything that doesn't have the Apple logo. That being said, it integrates very well with iCloud and syncs to your mobile device quite happily.
Word is starting to become ubiquitous everywhere - Microsoft have released Office365 in a web browser, it's installable and available as an app on most mobile devices. The experience is the same across them all and really is improving.
Google Docs is maturing constantly and more features are being added frequently. For collaboration it is King. See updates and writing by other people in almost real time and easily give various levels of access to documents. For working with colleagues Docs is the best - Pages and Word are not in the same realm.