Apple Keynote 2.0 for iPad, iPhone review

Keynote’s new sharing features aim to challenge Microsoft PowerPoint

One of the major changes in the new Mac version of Keynote was a more streamlined interface that made it easier to quickly find the tools that you need to create and edit your slides and presentations. Apple does say that the iOS version of Keynote also gets a "stunning new interface", but that's really just marketing hyperbole. In reality the program's interface simply gets a lick of paint and a new graphics style that is more in keeping with the clean, flat look of iOS 7.

There are no major interface changes comparable to the new Format Panel in the Mac version of the program. But, to be fair, Keynote for iOS already had a very lean, efficient interface that used just three pull down menus to add text and graphics elements, format and edit them, and then add transitions and animations to liven up your presentations. Read more Apple iOS app reviews.

The new Share menu allows you to share files and collaborate with colleagues.

There is one significant addition, though, as there is now an icon at the top of the iPad screen for a fourth menu that adds new sharing options to the program (on the iPhone the Share menu is folded into the Tools menu in order to save space on the smaller screen).

Like all the other iWork apps, Keynote now allows you to share files with friends and colleagues by sending them a link to a presentation via Messages, Mail, Twitter or Facebook. That link allows them to open and edit the presentation using the keynote for iCloud service at iCloud.com. You can even have more than one person working on the file at a time, and Keynote will warn you if there’s a conflict between the changes that each person makes and allow you to decide which changes you want to keep.

The ability to collaborate with others on your presentations is a real step forward, especially if – as seems to be the case – Apple wants to make people less reliant on Microsoft Office. But while the online version of Keynote seemed to work perfectly well during our tests, you should remember that the entire iWork for iCloud service is still in its beta testing phase and it's probably too early to rely on it for any important presentations or documents that you're going to need for work.

There are other sharing options, though. You can also 'Send A Copy' of a presentation via Messages, Mail, iTunes or a WebDAV server, and you also have the option of converting the presentation into either PDF or Microsoft PowerPoint format. That will be handy for sharing files with Windows-based colleagues who may not have access to Apple kit. It's also worth mentioning that the Mac, iOS and web-based versions of keynote now share exactly the same file format, so you shouldn't experience any surprises when transferring presentations onto different devices.

Keynote can warn you if two people make conflicting changes to the same file.

And, of course, the other important under-the-bonnet change is that Keynote and all the other iWork apps now support 64-bit processors. Admittedly, we found that transitions and other effects ran perfectly smoothly on our iPad 3 – a whiskery veteran of 18 whole months – so they should really zip along on the latest iPads and iPhones now.

Like its Mac counterpart, this version of Keynote gains a few new animation effects, such as the Clothesline transition that makes slides sway gently from side to side.  And, like the Mac version, it now allows you to create interactive charts that can be animated to show data changing over time. When you select one of the four types of interactive charts that are available - column, bar,scatter and bubble - you can enter numerical data just as you would for a normal chart. However, a new slider control also appears beneath the chart on your slide and allows you to step forward from one set of data to another, such as a series of monthly sales figures.

This feature works well, once you've figured it out, but Apple doesn't really give you much help here. Keynote 2.0 does include a new feature called 'coaching tips' that is supposed to provide on-screen help for new users. Unfortunately these tips are frustratingly vague - they'll tell you that you can add interactive charts, but don't actually explain how the charts work. This is something we've noticed on a number of occasions when exploring all the new iWork and iLife apps, so it'd be nice if apple paid as much attention to the documentation for its apps as it does to the graphic design of all those icons.

OUR VERDICT

Despite a few rough edges, Keynote remains the best tool for creating presentations on iOS devices – especially when you have the large screen of the iPad to play with. And now that it's free, Apple is really challenging Microsoft's recent claim that the iPad can't be used for content creation in business.

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