Keynote for iCloud beta review: Apple's presentation software comes to browsers

Apple's iWork for iCloud beta has been opened up to the public, so everyone can now try out the online version of the iWork suite. There are three apps in the iWork suite - Pages, Numbers and Keynote - all of which are now available as web-based versions in the iWork for iCloud beta. Here, we've reviewed the beta version of Keynote for iCloud.

Using Keynote for iCloud, anyone with an iCloud account can log-in through their browser and begin working on a Keynote presentation.

Keynote is slideshow and presentation app and a rival to Microsoft's PowerPoint. In the Keynote for iCloud beta version, you can create a new presentation straight from your browser, choosing from a selection of 12 themes.

There are less themes available here than in the desktop version of the app, but they are all customisable. Plus, if you've created a presentation on your desktop using one of Apple's other themes, you can import it and continue to use that theme within the iCloud version of the software.

Keynote for iCloud: features

There are less tools in the web version of Keynote than the Mac version, too, and we found that more closely resembles the iOS version of the app. However, you'll find that the majority of presentation tools that you'll need have been carried over into the Keynote for iCloud beta.

To import presentations that are not already in the cloud, simply drag them from your desktop into your browser, which should be open to the beta for Keynote for iCloud. You can then double click on that presentation to begin working on it. Apple's Keynote for iCloud also allows users to drag Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into the browser to work on.

Any changes that are made to the presentations in Keynote for iCloud will automatically appear in Keynote on Mac, iPad and iPod touch, which means your presentation will be up-to-date on whichever device you want to use.

It's worth noting that you may need to tweak presentations that you import from the Mac app to the web version. We found that some of the actions didn't work in the web version, and we had some trouble with timed builds.

If you plan on working primarily on the Mac app and only using the web-based app when you come to present your work, you'll want to make sure you've checked and tweaked it so that it appears how you want it to.

Within the web app, when you click on elements of your presentation, the toolbar on the right will automatically change to suite that element's properties. For example, if it's a text box, you'll see the text tools there, including paragraph style, font and alignment. If it's an image, you'll see the media editor instead, which lets you add borders, shadows and reflections, or change the opacity. While the image is selected, you can also mask, crop and rotate it. If you click on the slide itself, you can add slide transitions and effects, too.

Other tools include guides, show find & replace and check spelling, all of which could come in handy for improving your workflow.

Of course, as it's a beta version, Keynote for iCloud does have some bugs that need ironing out. For example, we were unable to add our own images to our presentation on several occasions, which is clearly an issue that needs resolving.

There is a Keynote for iCloud beta feedback form that's easily accessible from within the web app, so you can let Apple know if you come across any problems with the software.

When it comes to presenting, Keynote for iCloud does just as good a job as the Mac app. It's easy and simple to use and shouldn't cause you any unnecessary stress mid-presentation. There are no presenter notes, though.

Apple says that presenter notes will soon be added to the Keynote for iCloud beta, and also says that table editing is on its way.

If you want to share the presentation, Apple allows users to choose a format to sent via iCloud Mail. You can choose between Keynote, PDF and PowerPoint formats. There's also the option to share a presentation link.

Keynote for iCloud: browser compatibility

As with other programs in the iWork for iCloud beta suite, Keynote for iCloud requires a supported browser in order to be able to run properly.

In its support document, Apple says that supported browsers are as follows:

Safari 6.0.3 or later

Internet explorer 9.0.8 or later

Google Chrome 27.0.1 or later

Apple says that the following older browsers will allow you to use the Keynote for iCloud beta, but that some issues may be experienced while doing so:

Safari 5.0 – 6.0.2

Firefox 9.0

Google Chrome 7.0 – 26.0.1.

It could be a concern for some that Firefox isn't up there in the supported browsers list, and neither is Opera. If you're out and about and hoping to work in the cloud on a presentation on your way to an important meeting, you'll need to hope that the browser you find in the internet café nearby is up-to-date and supported by Apple.

Thankfully, Apple has said that additional browsers will soon be supported, though.

OUR VERDICT

Overall, if you've got an iCloud account and need to make presentations, it's definitely worth giving Keynote for iCloud a go. It's free, after all. For most, it'll be enough to create a presentation for the majority of purposes, and provides a convenient way of being able to access and edit presentations from anywhere.

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