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Image: Apple

Apple’s mid-April update that made several popular Mac and iOS apps free for all Mac and iOS users appears, at first, inconsequential. The apps, after all, were already free for customers having purchased new Macs, iPads and iPhones essentially since 2013. Following the change, though, hardware purchases are no longer required to obtain the software. Listing the apps as free within the App Store removes confusion and assists businesses and others owning older equipment in loading updated versions of the software packages.

In addition to all iWork applicationsPages, Numbers, and Keynote—being included in the change, iMovie and GarageBand are also now free for all Mac and iOS device users. As a result, all these tools are now more easily accessed through the Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for managed distribution.

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Businesses and organizations enrolled in the(VPP) can obtain free managed distribution copies in the VPP Store. Organizations can then leverage Apple Configurator or their Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform to push the apps to iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

To distribute content to users, organizations must meet the following requirements: iOS 7 or later and OS X Mavericks (version 10.9) or later for user assignment, and iOS 9 or later and OS X El Capitan (version 10.11) or later for device assignment.

The iWork applications are particularly compelling. Although two decades of experience using Microsoft Office products have trained me to reach for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by default, I’m struck by how fast, elegant, and easy to use Apple’s counterparts are every time I use them. Considering the fact that they’re free and possess comparably small footprints—Pages weighs in at 429MB versus Word’s 1.96GB, while Numbers consumes 346MB versus Excel’s 1.79GB, and Keynote is 674MB compared to PowerPoint’s 1.66GB—they deserve a look, especially as they natively support saving files in the popular Microsoft formats and as PDFs.

Nonprofit organizations and smaller firms also often rely on iMovie for basic video editing and publishing tasks. The same is true for GarageBand. Both applications pack a surprising amount of functionality within approachable programs that remain relatively easy-to-use, compared to competing products.

These products were already free for most Apple users having made qualifying purchases in the last several years. But the recent changes help ensure firms still using older systems, volume purchasing, and administration platforms will be able to get their hands on the software even easier.

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