Among the (many) announcements at Apple’s October 2013 event was the updating of iWork for iOS, now free for any existing users and those who purchase a new iOS device. One of the last bastilles of leather and wood effects, iWork was completely revamped and brought in line with iOS 7.
For PowerPoint refugees and anyone wanting to easily create slick presentations that are gorgeous to watch, as well as build, Keynote is a great example of how Apple can really push the boundaries of what is possible with iOS and just cements the idea that the iPad is just as good at content creation as it is consumption.
Keynote, like the rest of the iWork suite, has been completely revamped for iOS. All three apps (Keynote, Numbers, Pages) have the same interface and look & feel as each other, providing a uniformity that is welcome when previous iterations were focusing too much on linen and stitched leather.
iWork, and Keynote especially, emphasise just how good the iOS 7 revamp can be as there is nothing distracting or taking away from the main purpose of the app – to create. While some may lament the lack of buttons and gradients, Keynote already feels much more focused than it ever has done — it feels like a serious app.
A dedicated help button is on hand to overlay explanations of all the controls, a feature that was introduced back with iPhoto for iOS. While I’ve never been a fan of this method, it’s certainly useful as apps such as Keynote grow so large and include so many features that it becomes necessary. That isn’t to say the app is overwhelming or hard to navigate, quite the opposite. You’ll likely use this option once or twice, just to get a feel for it. After that, Keynote is ridiculously easy to use.
Keynote, as does the rest of the iWork suite, works best with iCloud and it’d be counter-productive to use the app without it. All of your presentations are easily laid out in a grid, though begin to use Keynote regularly and you’ve no option to search for items, something that seems sorely lacking.
The interface of iWork hasn’t fundamentally changed, the same toolbar items are available though a dedicated sharing option has been added, as well as the always-available help button.
Keynote includes many more templates to choose from than previously, with each being professionally designed and looking great. Just select a template and start editing it to suit.
The new look of Keynote makes creating new presentations a lot easier, especially on the smaller iPad mini, and at no point did I feel as though I’d benefit from the extra screen size of a full-size iPad.
Adding transitions and manipulating text, images and other graphics feels much improved, with the app feeling just more refined for a touch interface. The app includes many styling effects, such as text shadows and colours, as well as making it far easier to insert photos. Menus pop up almost as soon as you tap an item, letting you edit data or directly access animation settings.
Speaking of transitions, there are plenty more including some more graphical ones that look stunning. When iWork was first released on the Mac, some of the effects that are now present within the iPad version weren’t available to everyone as it required a powerful Mac to process them — how times have changed.
Tabulated and graphical data, such as pie charts, work wonderfully, providing the rich experience that iWork has always been known for. The interaction of adjusting tabulated data is still a little fiddly, especially if you’re new to it, as there is no help information within the app on how best to do it. You’re left to your own devices as to how best to change it.
As Keynote syncs all presentations via iCloud, you’re able to access them on any other iOS device, Mac or PC through iCloud.com. The sharing button in the toolbar, a new addition in this version of Keynote, provides a way to not only share on iCloud.com or any of the previous methods (such as iTunes or WebDAV), but a dedicated Open in Another App option is now included, providing a way to send a compressed copy of your Keynote to other apps, such as Dropbox.
Keynote is free for existing users and anyone purchasing a new iOS device. For everyone else, it’s still $9.99.
A lack of 3rd-party app support was always a problem for many potential users who wanted a way of getting presentations out of Keynote without having to rely on iCloud.
Apple has brought Keynote up to the same level as the Mac equivalent, making the choice between using them more about the form factor you’d prefer than what you’re expecting to get out of it. I can find no discernible difference between them and there was nothing I could do with the Mac version that I couldn’t do with iOS.
As someone who creates presentations on an irregular basis, I would always go straight to my Mac to do so. I’d tried Keynote for iOS previously with mixed results, trouble manipulating content and the user interface were off-putting, forcing me to revert to my preferred method of iWork for Mac.
Now, I am actually reaching for the iPad in preference over my Mac due to the easy to use interface and focus on content since Keynote just feels like something built for touch.