Productivity, communication, and collaboration tools have been a major focus area for major technology vendors for some time now.
Microsoft has Teams, and its complete range of Viva apps and tools for boosting employee engagement. Google has the Google Workspace, with cloud-based solutions for meeting, messaging, and document management. Meta has Workplace from Meta, as well as Horizons for the metaverse, and the Portal endpoint for collaboration.
Even Amazon has a variety of collaboration and communication solutions to offer, such as Amazon WorkDocs for data sharing, and Amazon Connect for contact centres. The only tech giant that doesn’t seem to have a strong footing in this space is Apple.
As companies continue to hunt for the best all-in-one suite of tools for team work and productivity, many have begun asking, “Does Apple make something like Microsoft Teams?”
Does Apple Have its Own Version of Microsoft Teams?
Simply put, Apple doesn’t have a comprehensive collaboration platform available to businesses that offers all the functionality of something like Microsoft Teams. However, that doesn’t mean companies can’t collaborate, or invest in productivity with Apple tools. Primarily, Apple encourages companies to use complementary tools supported by the Apple ecosystem for work.
For instance, Microsoft partnered with Apple to create a streamlined version of Teams, optimized for Apple silicon. Additionally, Teams, Cisco Webex, and many other tools are available to use on Apple devices. Users can even access Microsoft Office on Macs, iPhones, and tablets.
However, companies looking for dedicated solutions for teamwork produced by Apple will need to mix and match a handful of different tools to get the same services offered by Teams. The following Apple solutions all offer access to components of the Teams ecosystem, though there’s no all-in-one solution available yet.
Freeform, available for the latest version of iOS, is a digital whiteboarding and collaboration app which allows users to organise and arrange content on a flexible canvas. Freeform comes with numerous easy-to-use tools, including an infinite canvas which expands seamlessly as users work, numerous brush and pen styles, diagram creation tools, and graphs.
Freeform also supports a variety of files, including photos, video, audio, documents, PDFs, links, and sticky notes, as well as shapes and scanned images. Users can drag and drop content onto the board, share their canvas with other team members, and work collaboratively with up to 100 other people. Freeform also includes FaceTime access, so users can essentially video conference while they’re working on brainstorming sessions or documents.
Apple iWork is about as close as users can get to the productivity tools they would find in the Microsoft Teams ecosystem, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Basically, it’s a collection of three tools: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, all created with real-time collaboration capabilities:
- Pages: Pages allows users to create professional-looking documents using templates. People can add shapes, charts, videos, pictures, and more, and work with team members on real-time when building out content, similar to the Teams-connected version of Microsoft Word.
- Numbers: Numbers is basically Apple’s version of Excel. It’s a spreadsheet tool which starts users off with a blank canvas instead of a grid, where they can add tables, images, and charts, pivot tables, and smart categories, all while working alongside contacts.
- Keynote: Similar to PowerPoint, Keynote helps users to create and deliver powerful presentations. There are in-built graphic design tools for creating attractive text segments and slides with cinematic transitions.
All of these tools are available on Macs, iPads, iPhones, and PC devices, and users can work together with their team members synchronously, by connecting with contacts.
Finally, iMessage is the secure messaging solution available from Apple, which allows users to collaborate in a space similar to a Facebook Messenger-style widget. The iMessage service is built into iPhone and Mac operating systems already, and allows for real-time text, audio, and video communications between team members. However, it does lack a lot of IT-focused features for teams, such as backups and security settings.
Primarily intended for casual team communication, Apple iMessage makes it simple to launch conversations with individuals and groups in a dedicated space. It also comes with an “app drawer”, which includes automatic access to things like Apple photos, audio messages for recording voice, stickers and emojis, and Apple Cash. Users can also download additional iMessage apps form the app store, and menage them from within their app drawer.
For users specifically interested in leveraging a video conferencing solution, similar to Teams, FaceTime might be the best bet. The solution comes with access to screen sharing and presenter controls, as well as group support, so employees can communicate with multiple different staff members at the same time. It’s also possible to generate shareable links to invite people to a call.
FaceTime is a relatively simple solution for video conferencing, built into most Apple phones, and available on the App Store. It does include some interesting features though, such as “Centre Stage” which helps to improve video positioning, video effects, spatial audio, and “hand-off” options. The Apple team also recently added live captions to FaceTime, in beta mode.
Does Apple’s Toolkit Compare with Microsoft Teams?
Ultimately, while Apple does offer a range of tools similar to the capabilities users can find in Teams, there’s no all-in-one solution that can compete with Teams officially. To get a similar experience to Teams through iOS solutions alone, users would need to combine a range of different tools, from FaceTime for video conferencing, to iMessage for text conversations.
Apple basically provides business users with a handful of disconnected apps they can leverage for casual conversations with their team members, but that’s about it. However, that’s not to say Apple won’t one day introduce its own Teams-style platform.
For the time being, however, Apple seems to be focusing on other technologies, while allowing users to access the fully-featured collaboration tools they might prefer to use on their operating system from vendors like Microsoft and Cisco.