Three alternatives to PowerPoint for your iPad

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Three alternatives to PowerPoint for your iPad

What applications do we suggest as an alternative to PowerPoint for presenting from your iPad? Anthony Caruana has three picks for you.

There's no PowerPoint for iPad – unless you use the cloud-based version that's part of Office 365.

If you like to use PowerPoint and plan to use an iPad application to present from, we'd strongly advise that you test everything thoroughly. The conversion from PowerPoint to any other format is likely to result in something being changed or lost.

If you're a Mac user and create your presentations with the OS X version of Keynote, we'd suggest testing as well. The iOS and OS X versions of Keynote are similar but not identical.

So – what applications do we suggest you consider for presenting from your iPad? We're going to propose three although there are really dozens to chose from.

If you're planning to use your iPad to give presentations regularly, we'd suggest creating a kit with some essentials.

Before you start

Although many conference venues provide a broad range of cables and connectors, we'd suggest investing in

  • iPad to VGA connector
  • iPad to HDMI connector
  • HDMI cables – I like to have one long one and a shorter one
  • VGA cables – again, a long one and a short one

 With these, you'll be able to connect to almost any projector or display.

Keynote

 

Apple's Keynote for iOS costs $10.49 from the iTunes App Store and is an exceptional piece of software. When iOS was released last year, a whole new version of Keynote, with feature parity between the iOS and OS X versions, hit the market. Keynote allows you to create presentations either from scratch or using templates.

There's tight integration with the Photos app so you can embed images and videos easily. There are also graphs, tables and all the other features you'd expect.

All of the on-screen controls are easy to use with a finger and it even supports multi-user collaboration when storing slideshows in iCloud.

Keynote can import and export to PowerPoint although you'll need to check things before just accepting the transfer. For example, one of the common gotchas is that videos embedded on a slide may not play on the iPad due to its limited codec support.

Prezi

Prezi takes a completely different approach to creating and showing presentations. Rather than being about sideshows, Prezi treats your presentation as a giant canvas where you zoom in on the piece you want to focus on.

As a result of this different approach, you'll need to develop your presentations in a different way. However, this is a good thing. Too many of us have been stuck in presentations where dot point after dot point is made with little consideration given by the presenter about narrative flow.

Prezi, because of its different approach to creating presentations, forces you into creating a meaningful narrative that flows. This makes it a more challenging tool to use as well because it means many of us need to retrain ourselves to design our presentations in a different way.

Prezi can be used on iOS devices and via a web browser and users can collaborate on presentations. As Prezi doesn’t work in the same way as traditional presentation software applications, there's no import/expert from PowerPoint.

It's important to note that Prezi stores your presentation on its cloud service. The free version of Prezi makes those presentations public. If you want to keep things private, you'll need to buy the "Enjoy" package. This costs $59USD per year. In addition to private presentations, you also get 500MB of online storage, up from 100MB offered in the free version. For $159USD, Storage is boosted to 2Gb and you get the Mac and Windows versions of Prezi so you can work offline from your computer.

Haiku Deck

Sometimes, all you want is something simple and elegant - Haiku Deck is The Little Black Dress of presentation software.

When you start using the free Haiku Deck – you'll need to sign in to the app using either Facebook, Twitter or an email address – you choose from one of the five free themes that comes with the application. There are also 11 extra themes available for $2 each or you can buy a theme pack from $15.

Haiku Deck draws on a pool of about 35 million Creative Commons images that you can use or you can connect to Flickr, Facebook or use your own photos in presentations. You can also add tables, graphs and equations.

Despite all it can do, Haiku Deck is very easy to use. Novices should be able to assemble a decent looking presentation quickly and easily.

Once you're done, Haiku Deck lets you save your work to their cloud service. You can choose to keep your slideshows either private or make them public.

Our only criticism of Haiku Deck is that it requires a constant Internet connection to work. If your iPad is equipped with cellular comms that's unlikely to be an issue. But if your iPad is WiFi only then you'll need to stay connected making it a less attractive option for those who like to work on planes and other disconnected environments.

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