In October of 2013 Apple stumped its audience when it released OS X Mavericks and new versions of their iWork suite of software for free for all new Macs and iOS devices.
For some, like myself, it was an unexpected move as Apple always charged for upgrades of their OS and productivity suite. But not so much for others, as Apple had been reducing their prices in prior versions.
To understand that move you have to always remember that Apple is a hardware company; not software centric like Microsoft of Google. Without getting too deep, having free OS and iWork updates makes the Mac and iOS devices more attractive as they compete against Google powered Android devices, and to an extent, Microsoft's huge effort to catch up in the mobile space.
As part of Apple's strategy is the fact that the iWork suite of apps, including Pages, now can share the same documents across the Mac, iOS and now iCloud. In previous versions, there was some greater disparity between the features of the desktop version and the mobile. Now, that disparity is much less pronounced, with the unfortunate side effect that some desktop features had to be removed to make the documents more compatible across platforms. But having a very similar feature set across platforms simply means that you can be working on your Mac, then on your iPad, probably sitting at someone else's PC, and even on your iPhone or iPod Touch.
Pages on the Mac behaves like any other desktop application. You use your mouse/trackpad and a full size keyboard with a large screen and fast CPU. On iOS you use the mobile version of Pages, which has the main difference of a touch-based user interface. This makes some tasks more difficult, like typing text or trying to select something small. And then there is the iCloud version, where you use any of the current web browsers to edit your Pages documents, regardless if you're on a Mac, a PC or anything in between. As long as iCloud has support for that web browser, you can edit most of your document online.
It's really crazy how iCloud just enables that portability. As soon as you make a change on one device, it gets pushed to the iCloud server, which then ensures that it's then synced with your other devices.
Having said all this, all these versions are still not 100% interoperable. For example, setting a font on your Pages document on the Mac doesn't mean that the exact same font will be available in iOS or in iCloud. Some other features are somewhat limited in iOS, and even further in iCloud. For example, the Chart inspector on the Mac has number of features that are limited in iOS, and totally missing in iCloud.
The interaction between a precise pointing device on the Mac and even on iCloud on a computer is very different from using your finger on an iPad or god forbids, on an iPhone or iPod Touch! Yes, the retina displays on the mobile devices are very nice and sharp, but my finger is just too thick and clunky. The inspectors in iOS usually have multiple levels of navigation.
To conclude, Pages is now everywhere, but I get the feeling that most of us will mainly use the Mac version. The iCloud version is quite convenient as you can do some edits on the go even if you don't have your own Mac or iOS device with you. But from the 3 platforms (Mac, iOS and iCloud) iCloud has the skinniest feature set. I can see the iOS version saving my bacon in certain cases. For example, spending a few days working on a Pages file on the Mac, say a proposal. Now, you're almost ready to submit the PDF to your client to find out in the very last minute that the budget figures have changed slightly and the battery on your MacBook is dead. iOS to the rescue! That's when going through the pain of using the touch interface to update the budget figures would be justified. Once updated, export and email the PDF directly from your iPhone.
At any rate, Pages across all platforms, is being updated on a regular basis. So these disparities are being reduced fairly quickly. Just make sure you update your software whenever a new version comes out.
To learn more about Pages check out this video course: