It’s been 10 days since the iPad release and opinions are still split as to whether Apple’s latest device will change the world or just result in a pricey shrug. After furiously playing and experimenting with it for a week, I have to agree with my friend Jeff Solomon when he says that we will just have to wait for the iPad to teach us how best to use it.
With regard to presentation, however, I am confident in saying that the iPad has opened up a new and exciting frontier. For me, it has revealed the true potential for what I like to call “3-D Information” and “3-D Presentation” where presentations are no longer linear and where the audience and speaker interact and control information on a level that PowerPoint (and Keynote) just can’t currently conceive of. If you think of your average old linear “PowerPoint” as a textual description of a house for sale, then “3-D Presentation” is an actual tour of the house where you can open up cabinets and rummage through closets. I have written a white paper on what the iPad might mean for the future of presentation which you can download here.
But for those interested in the immediate here and now (and who might be considering an iPad purchase), here are the 5 ways (as of this writing) that you can convert and show your current presentations on the iPad:
1. iPad Keynote Application – Apple created a version of their excellent PowerPoint-like desktop software specially for the iPad. The good news is that you can import (via iTunes) existing Keynote presentations as well as PowerPoint files into the iPad Keynote application, edit and then play them off the device. You can even hook up the iPad to an external monitor with an extra adaptor. The bad news is that the Keynote version of the iPad is much more limited in functionality than the desktop version. Depending on the complexity of your presentation, you are liable to lose certain animations, object groupings, unsupported custom fonts and hyperlinks among other things. If your Keynote has embedded video, this should still play on the iPad. PowerPoint files can also be imported into and run out of iPad Keynote, but you’re still liable to lose some functionality. Some problems can be fixed as iPad Keynote is capable of editing and even creating new presentations from scratch. If you get into its groove, you might even enjoy creating and editing on the iPad. But personally it’s still more than a little frustrating for me at this point.
2. PDF – Turn your presentation into a PDF and the iPad will be happy to display it. However, there is no easy way to get a PDF onto the device. You can email it to yourself, or post it online and view it in the Safari browser. Or you can use a 3rd party PDF viewer app such as GoodReader or PDF Reader Pro which will allow you load PDFs via iTunes. PDF apps are currently a little clunky, but should rapidly improve.
3. Movie – Turn your presentation into a Quicktime movie file. PowerPoint for the Mac and Keynote will do this for you, although neither creates clickable Quicktime movies anymore, resulting in a self-playing movie with timed transitions and little control.
4. iBook – The iPad is an incredible book reader and fortunately, it can import any book saved in the universal ePub format. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest thing to create or convert to ePub. Adobe InDesign can do it as can a number of other apps such as the free Calibre. An ePub document is more complicated than a PDF and, obviously, it’s more suited to text-heavy documents. User-created ePub book creation is still in its infancy and it will get better as people learn the tricks to getting best results.
5. Photos – Surprisingly, the iPad’s simple, but fast and elegant Photos application impressed me the most as a presentation tool. Save your entire presentation as a series of JPEGs, drop them into an album in iPhoto and sync photos to your iPad. Each album appears as a stack of photos which you easily open and navigate with your fingers. You can even pull a mini filmstrip navigator at the bottom of the screen to rapidly scroll forwards and backwards through your series of photos (slides) or jump to a particular one. If you put different sections of your presentation into different photo albums, you can use the Photos home screen as a type of visual table of contents to move to different parts of your deck. You can also drop Quicktime movies into an iPhoto album and they appear on the iPad in between sequenced photos–no ned to switch to the iPad Video app.
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In importing and running many different presentations to the iPad, the thing that became clear to me was the iPad cries out for non-linear presentation. Just putting a PowerPoint or PDF on the device results largely in a presentation on just a smaller screen. This is why I’m currently drawn to the Photos app. Of the above currently available solutions, Photos is the one presentation method that feels the most interactive and user-guided. And that’s what “3-D Presentation” for me is about: Allowing for a custom and intimate interaction with the content.
Hopefully, either Apple or another developer will step up and create a new type of presentation software that will not only make use of the iPad, but all the other technologies and hardware that are sure to follow and that are already quietly on the scene: large touch screens, touchscreen laptops, competing tablets, etc.
Again, if you want to read more, take a look at the white paper.