On 5 June I attended Barcamp Brisbane 5 which was by far the best Barcamp in SE Qld to date. As usual for a barcamp I was working on a few slides on Cloud Computing with less than a day to go. I contemplated presenting my slides from my iPad acquired just a week earlier and even bought an iPad to VGA cable the night before in Brisbane. As it transpired my confidence left me and I used PowerPoint 2010 on my trusty Samsung netbook instead.
Since then I have been experimenting with slide presentations on the iPad. In part this was triggered by a post I recalled from Jane Hart about iPad presentations and MightyMeeting. I used my Cloud Apps Ascent slide deck (Office Live public link) from the barcamp as the example presentation. It should be admitted this does use the excellent PowerPoint SmartArt feature quite heavily. In particular the last slide uses a Stacked Venn diagram from SmartArt and should appear as shown.
So I followed Jane’s lead and acquired the free MightyMeeting iPad app and uploaded the sample slides. MightyMeeting converts PowerPoint slides to images and worked perfectly for every slide.Verdict: MightyMeeting is very good and has a couple of extra features of note: you can upload slide shows and download then by email, and conduct online meetings sharing the slides amongst participants. Great!
Jane’s updated post mentioned Slideshare Mobile so I tried that next. Slideshare is one of my favourite Web 2.0 apps and the upload was no problem from a PC, and my Slideshare presentation functions flawlessly in Firefox, IE8 and Chrome. I accessed this Slideshare presentation in iPad Safari, and was pleased to see the first slide showing well in Slideshare Mobile. Sadly the content of a couple of slides didn’t display at all and appear as a twinkling question mark.
Worse the slides with the missing content are different each time I visit this presentation in Slideshare Mobile. Sadly this means that Slideshare Mobile is not yet at production quality.
My next obvious next step was to purchase Keynote for iPad, something most owners will inevitably want to do. Keynote imported my slides quickly but suffered some blooper conversions, a couple shown here:
The inverted arrow text is on the left and Keynote’s attempt at a Stacked Venn on the right. Of course Keynote is very effective in creating slides from scratch but it’s PowerPoint conversions need more work. As well as storing the presentation in Keynote format or PDF via file sharing locally on the iPad, Keynote can send presentations by email or to the free iWork server that offers 1 GB of free storage in the current beta version. It was disappointing to see that a 620 KB PowerPoint file is eventually uploaded to iWork as 5.2 MB, an 8-fold increase. The transfer time to and from iWork is definitely noticeable over 3G.
Finally I gave the free Office Live a try on the iPad not really expecting a positive outcome. Having uploaded the slides to Office Live I visited my account on iPad Safari to find the folders and files work well. Clicking on the slide show eventually leads to a Thumbnail Index, a narrow list of 5 slides at a time in perfect format for small mobile phone screens. Pressing a thumbnail shows one complete slide per Safari page with navigation controls.
As you might expect Office Live converts all PowerPoint slides perfectly. This ability to round-trip – upload to Office Live, do simple edits, and download again- is a significant benefit of the Office Web Apps missed my many reviewers. The slide shown uses a Vertical Block List and is another example of a format that Keynote currently can not support.
So my journey through some of the obvious possibilities of the support of presentations on iPad has left me with mixed feelings. To exploit my large collection of PowerPoint presentations, and when I need to make full use of power of SmartArt, it looks like MightyMeeting is currently the answer with SkyDrive and Office Live a close second. However we can assume Keynote will improve over the coming months and my investment will doubtless prove its worth.