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Apple updates free Keynote, Pages and Numbers iWork apps to take on Microsoft Office

The tech giant adds video presentation tools and other features to beef up its apps.

Apple updated its free iWork apps Tuesday.

Apple on Tuesday updated its free iWork series of productivity apps, adding updated features amid the release of its iOS 15 software, as well as the iPhone 13 and new iPads. Among the changes: Apple said it's made documents easier to read and write in its Pages app, added new organizational features into its Numbers spreadsheet app, and introduced live video views of a presenter in its Keynote slideshow app, as well as support for multiple presenters.

The updates mark Apple's latest refinement of its productivity software, which it offers for free alongside new iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. Microsoft also offers its Office productivity software for Macs but generally charges to use all its features. 

Some of Apple's changes to iWork, like including the video feed of a presenter in Keynote, can be particularly helpful during the pandemic while many people are still working and communicating remotely. Others are designed to respond to longstanding needs of users.

One change Apple made to its Pages app is focused on the iPhone. The company said iPhone owners use Pages far more than users of any other device do, and so the company built technology called Screen View that reorganizes text and images to be easier to read and flick through on a phone. Apple said the changes don't affect the underlying document, and they're meant to make it easier for people to read documents they might receive in email, particularly on the go.

Apple also introduced features that let users select text and quickly translate it into one of 11 different languages. The app can also read the newly translated text aloud.

Apple's new updates are being made for free to iPhone, iPad and Mac users Tuesday through the App Store and Mac App Store.