PowerPoint for iPad – The Übergeek Review

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 by Matt

A wise man (I think he was wise anyway) once said the problem with the iPad is that Apple made a big iPhone rather than a small Mac. Unfortunately I think he was right.

Now I’m a PC man, I don’t own a MAC and quite frankly if you put me in front of one I’d have trouble finding the on button. But I am Apple gadget mad, I have an iPod Touch, iPhone 5 and an iPad 4 – so I know my around these devices pretty damn well. I like to explore new quirky useful apps, for example I recently turned my iPad into a touchpad remote control mouse and keyboard for my Laptop which was connected to my home TV. So I think I qualify as something of a geek.

When I heard PowerPoint for iPad was going to be released, I should have been jumping for joy and chomping at the bit to get my hands on it and have a play.

But – I’ve been here before. With this app or that app claiming to be the one to truly put an Eyeful designed PowerPoint in all its glory on the iPad only to fail time after time. The closest we’ve got is through some software called iSpring. And by close I mean 96% (my official guesstimate!) to the user experience being truly replicated on the iPad to the level it is on a PC.

Then a couple of days ago, I finally got my hands on the official Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad app and, well, it’s not all bad, but it’s not all great either!

Let’s start at the beginning.

You have just received your lovingly created PowerPoint Presentation from Eyeful, it’s all there, the message is strong, design is sleek and the animation artfully carries your story through to its conclusion…

And there you are, with a piece of collateral ready for a formal one-to-many presentation. But as we’ve preached many times, that same collateral can be reutilised and used on mobile devices. Cue the calls to put the deck on the iPads ready for next week’s marketing event.

And why not? An interactive presentation on a booth at an event, is a great way for interested people to have a play and find out what your business is all about.

An iPad is a also a powerful informal sales tool for when you step into that 1-2-1 pitch meeting and really need to get across why you are the BEST!

So, surely whacking the PowerPoint file onto the iPad is easy right? WRONG!

It’s a right palaver, but it’s getting better. And due credit to Microsoft for finally getting this app released. Well as much credit as you can give someone for turning up to the party 4 years after it started!!

You have three options to get the file onto the iPad. Firstly, the easiest and simplest method is OneDrive – Microsoft’s free cloud based hard drive. Simply drop the file onto your OneDrive account on your PC and a few minutes later it will be available to download onto your iPad, assuming you have the OneDrive app installed on your iPad. Filesize and internet speed will determine how long this process takes.

Second up and also pretty simple is via email, simply email the file to yourself. The usual file size restrictions apply. So this would rule out a lot of the presentations we create.

And finally, the most convoluted, but possibly quickest solution if your file is pretty beefy is via USB cable and some third party software called File App, which is a bit fiddly at first, but is a really useful piece of software for exploring the inner workings of your iPad.

So, one way or another you now have your Eyeful presentation on your iPad. So far so good, but how does it playback?

This is usually where the apps have fallen down over the years. In the past there have been text spilling everywhere, shapes and images suddenly in the wrong place and a lack of animation that simply put, you may as well have just converted it to PDF and not bothered.

Well, I put the app through its paces with a lovely presentation we designed that features a host of features including great design and use of images, demanding slick animation, custom shows, hyperlinks to external websites and embedded video.

And I was pleasantly surprised on hitting play, as the presentation sprang into life in a smooth and sophisticated way, the animation played smoothly, no glitches were obvious and it all felt pretty solid. A simple swipe took me through the first slides and it was like viewing a PowerPoint on a PC – it was working!!!

But then, the first fail, an embedded video sat static and no amount of tapping, pressing and holding or shaking of the iPad would get it to play. GUTTED. It was all going so well.

Then onto a slide with custom show hyperlinks which gave me the option to view some hidden slides – which failed. The custom show links were deader than VHS technology…

I skipped on through the rest of the presentation and to the apps credit the only problems I saw were the two noted above, they were pretty big problems though.

But if, like the majority of Eyefuls presentations, yours doesn’t contain custom shows or videos then this is a pretty robust solution for playing presentations on iPads. And there is some further good news, the app does support hyperlinking from slide to slide and hyperlinking to external websites…

So the custom show route can be worked around. And so long as you don’t mind requiring a live internet connection, then the videos could be hosted online and streamed outside of the presentation. Get stuck in slow internet area though and expect the video to buffer.

Speaking of internet connections, further good news… when you initially add the presentation file to the iPad it stays on the hard drive of the device, meaning you don’t need to be connected to the internet for playback. An absolutely critical box ticked.

So, all in all, it’s not a perfect iPad  solution – but there is enough capability there to make the PowerPoint for iPad app a viable presentation playback solution.

In terms of editing and creation, the word fiddly doesn’t come close. Whilst a lot of functionality is there, a lot isn’t. Making it pretty pointless in an age where your sole piece of hardware isn’t going to be an iPad.  It’s far easier to create and edit on a proper PC or Mac.

The most I would be comfortable doing would be tweaking textboxes and changing colours of objects. Changing images without breaking animation sequences isn’t an option. In fact adding or amending animation in the app isn’t supported. Strangely enough though, if animation is already present (having been added during creation on PC) then this displays perfectly. Good, but strange!

And there you go the PowerPoint for iPad app is finally here. Right now it’s not perfect and it did turn up 4 years late. So all in all, depending on the project it could be the perfect iPad solution. But without video, custom shows and animation it just feels like it’s only part of the PowerPoint package. So, all things considered, this Übergeek scores it 6/10, Microsoft must try harder.

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