The iWork suite, host to Pages and Numbers, includes Keynote – Apple’s premium presentation software built to offer an alternative to Microsoft’s PowerPoint. And now that it’s available for iPad, presentations can be created and viewed straight from your latest device.
In Keynote, Apple followed the same design ethic found in their other iWork for iPad suite of applications, with a familiar library of presentations visible when opening the application. Tapping the plus icon at the bottom centre is where you get started (and can duplicate a presentation just in case you’re prone to, like me, break things irreversibly). Twelve templates are there to choose from when starting a presentation, with a myriad of customization options available – more on this shortly. Interestingly, unlike Pages and Numbers, Keynote only works in landscape mode.
Keynote has a smart design to it. A fixed slides column along the left hand side gives you a (very) small preview of what each slide looks like, along with the ability to create new slides. There are eight templates: picture and title, title and subtitle, title and bullet points, title, bullet points and picture, title and blank space, picture, bullet points and, finally, a blank option. Everything can be moved and resized and rejigged, meaning it’s not a case of “which slide do I settle with?” but “which one looks the most like the one I’m after?” With a touch of customization, things will look just the way you want them to.
The editing process is seamless. Apple offers a Getting Started presentation with 20 slides in it, explaining how to get the most out of Keynote as well as showing off the transition effects available. There are four customization buttons along the top that, once mastered, will make presentations appear seamless and professional. The first is the all-familiar information “i,” which iWork and iLife users will know changes depending on what you’ve selected. If it’s text, options to choose the font, alignment and color exist; whereas if it’s a chart you get a myriad of charting settings. Speaking of charts, Apple includes a built in mini-Numbers application into Keynote, with a basic spreadsheet to allow you to create charts on-the-go. The interface is very simple: one spreadsheet and one keypad only.
The picture icon to the right of the informational “i” is where the iPad talks to the Photos application to retrieve saved photo albums and pictures as well as the ability to insert tables, charts and a variety of shapes. Again, each of these contain a large number of different color schemes and fully customizable layouts. To the right of that is the ever-popular effects button, allowing you to jazz up your presentation. The process is relatively simple: tap a slide, choose the effect, done. Apple has kindly included a transition time (up to 5 seconds) and delay time (up to 10 seconds) setting, as well as the ability to specify where the transition effect enters the screen from. In addition, transitions aren’t just limited to tapping on the screen, with Apple having included an “After Previous Transition” option to satisfy those who wish to leave the iPad to do all the work. For reference, there are 20 different transition types and also a “Magic Move” feature, enabling objects from one slide to move onto the next slide in line. Another neat touch.
The Tools section reveals a search function, which also includes a find and replace feature. Guide options are at your fingertips to ensure that objects are aligned properly, and slide numbers can be added to each slide too. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for viewers to see how many slides there are actually are; the slide counter is merely a number “x” rather than “x/y,” y being the total number of slides. Lastly, a spell check is there which, thankfully, can be turned off. There’s nothing more annoying than a squiggly line underneath every proper name, right?
That’s all there is to the actual presentation side of Keynote. I am impressed with how easy it is to use, especially given the depth of some of the settings and options. Like other Apple applications, you seem to just know automatically where everything is. Even if you manage to screw things up, undo and redo facilities exist. What makes Keynote so special is that it’s just so usable.
Of course, sharing is a critical feature that deserves attention also. Apple has provided a variety of ways in which presentations can be imported, exported and published. You can send a document via Mail, share it via Apple’s premier iWork.com service, and also export presentations ready for iTunes File Sharing whenever you plug your iPad in to your computer. This final method provides the ability to save the document in Keynote format (.keynote) and PDF (.pdf) Presentations can also be imported through iTunes File Sharing and through the iPad’s Mail application.
Apple has struck the right chords with Keynote, just as with the other iWork applications for the iPad. Its presentation is chic yet functional, and the application remains snappy to use even while creating more image-intensive slides and transitions. It’s hard to tell where it falls short, because it offers so much. The only thing that I can think of is the presentation’s resolution – unlike the Mac version of Keynote, you can’t specify what resolution the presentation will be built in. Nonetheless, Keynote is absolutely worth the money if you make use out of it. It might not have all the themes and options that the Mac version has, which can make importing some presentations a not-very-nice experience, but for quick creation and a decent amount of editing, Keynote for iPad does exactly what it should do. And it does it seamlessly.
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