Productivity showdown: Making a choice

It should be clear that the choice is between iWork and Office. Of course, that needn’t be a choice, since iWork comes with your iPad, and it’s a rare business that won’t provide Office to its employees. (That is why Microsoft has tied the iOS and Android versions of Office to having an Office 365 subscription, to force the issue for companies with mobile workers.)

G Suite is not nearly functional enough on iOS to make the iPad viable as a mainstay production device. G Suite really only supports production use on a computer browser, with its mobile apps suitable only for touchup work.

Because Office and iWork are nearly equivalent in their productivity capabilities, your decision will be driven largely by two other factors:

  1. Office dominance. Because Office for iPad looks and works very much like Office for Android, Office 2016 for Mac, and Office 2016 for Windows, it makes a lot of sense for a «Microsoft shop» to have everyone use Office everywhere. That reduces training requirements and slightly eases document flow. In more heterogeneous environments, iWork’s strong file compatibility with Office means you can have your iWork and Office too.
  2. Collaboration and cloud differences. All three suites differ most in how they handle files in the cloud and support collaboration. Even when their functionality is the same, how they deliver that functionality can differ significantly. Most companies will go to Office now that the underlying OneDrive cloud storage engine works decently across all platforms, and now that OneDrive has SharePoint integration. Plus, Office has the best cross-platform support.

The good news is you really can’t go wrong with Office or iWork. The more Apple-centered you are, the more iWork is plausible. But Office has the key advantages of working well across all platforms and fitting in easily with your existing Office infrastructure.

Capability Microsoft Office Google G Suite Apple iWork
Share documents with others Yes Yes Yes 1
Limit sharing to corporate users Yes Yes 2 No
Password-protect shared documents No No Yes
Allow multiple simultaneous users on a document No Yes Yes
See whom the document is shared with Yes Yes Yes


A very detailed comparison.