I wrote a few weeks ago about my less-than-impressive experiments using iCloud collaboration to work on a Pages document with a client. Following that post, I received a few emails from readers explaining that I was doing it wrong. In order to make collaboration work, I needed to not be using the Mac Pages client but instead we both needed to be working directly in the web browser.
Today I was on the phone with that same Mac-savvy client and we decided to try the experiment again. I started a file in Pages and sent him an iCloud link. However, this time I then closed down the Pages application and logged into my own iCloud.com account and accessed the web version of Pages. We both got logged in and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that collaboration, when both parties are in the web version, works pretty great. We were both typing as we were talking, changing font sizes, and otherwise mucking about in our document and it was showing up on both screens in real time. So Pages collaboration does work so long as you don't use the native app.
This is good news. Now you can collaborate on documents without Google Docs. I'm going to be exploring this further but there is promise. It is kind of wonky that I can't use the native Mac app but in fairness, I don't use Google Docs out of a native app either. I can understand how adding that extra layer of getting this data out of the web and into the native app can gum up the works.
For giggles, I also tried collaborating from the native Pages app on the iPad with the other person on the web and that didn't work any better than when I was in the native Mac version of Pages. I got the same delays and messages asking me to approve changes that took place two minutes earlier.
While my initial post was correct for anyone using a native app version of Pages, collaboration can work through iCloud so long as everyone is sitting at a browser window.