Tue, 27 Jan 2009 Keynote '09 Review
Apple’s presentation package improves with age but still misses some key features
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: More animation tools; expanded data display; improved Theme Chooser; more graphics options; revamped Presenter Display
- Cons: Audio can’t span selected slides; no support for QuickTime VR; limited printing options; missing Web View; needs better system for managing multiple objects on a slide.
- Min specs: Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (500MHz or faster) processor; 512MB of RAM; 1GB recommended; Approximately 1.2GB of available disk space; 32MB of video memory; Mac OS X v10.4.11 or Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later; QuickTime 7.5.5 or later; DVD drive required to install.
- Price: £69
- Star rating:
After six years and thousands of slides, I can’t imagine getting along without Keynote. Its rival, Microsoft PowerPoint has made progress on many fronts, but still doesn’t equal Keynote’s. elegance or ease of use. disappointing oversights, Keynote ’09 is an evolutionary upgrade that raises the bar further.
Keynote’s animation repertoire includes several welcome changes. A feature called Magic Move introduces a form of tweening, which automatically morphs one version of an object into another. For example, say you want to home in on a picture of the Earth to simulate the view from an approaching spaceship. To do that, you create a slide with the planet at the center, copy the slide, and then enlarge the globe on the duplicate. Apply the Magic Move transition to the first frame, and Keynote generates a smooth zoom when you play the slide show.
In addition to position and size, Magic Move lets you alter an object’s fill, stroke, shadow, reflection, opacity, or rotation, further expanding the range of possible effects. But, unlike other animations, Magic Move is implemented as a transition, so it only works with objects on consecutive slides. It would be more effective if you could also apply Magic Move to objects on one slide.
Another new transition called Text Effects lets you transform one text string into another using one of four special effects, although the implementation is a bit quirky. Two of the transitions—Anagram and Swing—work only with text. If you choose either one, geometric shapes on the slide act as if you’d chosen Magic Move instead. But the two other Text Effects—Shimmer and Sparkle—apply to text as well as shapes, which is confusing.
On the move
In Keynote ’08, you could display a moving object, its path, and ghosted versions of its waypoints and destination, but the path and ghosts disappeared as soon as you clicked anywhere else on the slide. Now, option-clicking the red diamond in any object with a motion path keeps the path and ghosts visible until you click the diamond again. That makes it easier to coordinate the intermediate and final positions of multiple moving objects on a slide.
A clever new command in the Format menu lets you use one object as the motion path for another. When you apply the command to two selected objects, the shape in the back disappears and turns into a motion path for the object in front. That’s often much simpler than drawing a path from scratch. Another handy addition to the Format menu lets you copy animation from one object and paste it on to another.
It’s easy to define a motion path for Mars based on an elliptical shape. And even though they’re not selected, the motion paths for the other planets are still visible.
Keynote ’09 offers several new ways to display numerical information, including cylindrical bar graphs and mixed bar and line charts. Keynote also adds four creative builds that change a graph’s perspective as it appears on the screen. Alas, you can’t apply them to 2-D charts. Keynote’s expanded options for axis and series formatting are even more valuable for presenting numeric data. Keynote ’09 lets you display error bars as a fixed value, percentage, standard error, or standard deviation, and you can show trendlines (and the equations used to derive them) on bar, line, and scatter plots.
Another new option lets you copy charts from Numbers and paste them into Keynote. Charts remain linked to their source data, so changes in Numbers are reflected in Keynote. Updating isn’t automatic, though—you have to click a button to refresh the chart in Keynote. Keynote ’09 also explicitly supports Design Science’s MathType 6 equation editor. A new command in the Insert menu inserts a placeholder onto the current slide and launches MathType if it’s not already running. From then on, double-clicking on the equation in Keynote opens MathType automatically.
Extra table cell formats round out the changes to Keynote’s data display options. Duration formats numbers as units of time—you drag a slider to set the units that you want to display, from milliseconds to weeks. Numeral System, another new option, displays cell values in any number system from base 2 to 36. If the built-in formats aren’t enough, you can create custom ones that give you precise control over how data appears, including the ability to set conditions for when to apply a particular format.
Some of Keynote’s new capabilities, such as the reworked Theme Chooser, aren’t groundbreaking, but simplify workflow by eliminating steps. As you move the cursor over a theme’s thumbnail, it changes to show key master slides, along with a sample table, bar graph, and pie chart, so you can gauge how your presentation will look before you choose the theme. A new drop-down menu lets you open recent files, and a slider magnifies all the theme thumbnails.
Mousing over a theme reveals sample layouts like the pie chart shown in the middle row.
New object relative spacing guides, which you activate in Keynote’s Rulers preferences dialog, appear when you drag an object so that it’s the same distance from two other objects. Similarly, relative sizing guides pop up when two or more aligned objects have the same height or width. Although you can distribute and align objects using existing menu commands, the guides are often quicker and easier.
Another new option slims Keynote presentations by eliminating unused data from inserted media, including resized images and trimmed movies. You can apply the process to media files one-by-one or globally. As you’d expect, the savings vary. And since the reduction is one-way only—you can’t recover data once it’s gone—it’s a good idea to keep the original files handy just in case.