Microsoft seems determined to make static, slide-based presentations a thing of the past.
The company today unveiled Office Sway, a new app that enables users to create, publish and share interactive presentations that scale to fit a variety of screen sizes, from compact smartphones to spacious PC monitors. "It's a new way for you to create a beautiful, interactive, web-based expression of your ideas, from your phone or browser," explained Microsoft's new Sway team in a company blog post.
Sway's cloud-based, touch-friendly toolset is a break from traditional presentation-building tools. "It is easy to share your creation and it looks great on any screen. Your ideas have no borders, edges, page breaks, cells or slides," continued the group.
Sway.com, the app's official Website, currently hosts a handful of early examples that demonstrate how the app can be used at work, at school and for creative endeavors. Images, videos, text and other elements smoothly slide and settle into place as users explore content, lending a polished and professional touch to Sway presentations.
The app supports drag-and-drop authoring from a variety of sources. "Sway shows you the stuff you have stored in the cloud: just tap or click, drag, and drop it right onto your canvas," said Microsoft. For now, "Sways" can include content from OneDrive, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, along with files stored on their own devices. Microsoft promises to enable additional embedding options over time.
Users don't have to be design experts to craft engaging, eye-pleasing Sway experiences, asserts Microsoft.
A built-in design engine, based on algorithms developed at Microsoft Research, automatically produces an optimized layout as content is being added. "This means that from the first word, image, Tweet, or graphic you add, your Sway is already being formed for you," said the team. "As you add more of your content, Sway continues to analyze and arrange it based on the algorithms and design styles we've incorporated."
To encourage creativity, personalization and sharing, users won't be locked into a template-driven experience, assures the company. After Sway creates a layout, "you can easily modify the design to create a look and feel unique to you," explained a company spokesperson in an email to eWEEK. "The end result is a new type of interactive document that looks great on any screen and can be shared to anyone, as effortlessly as sending a link."
Sway follows Microsoft's May 8 release of Office Mix. The free add-on for PowerPoint, aimed at educators and business training experts, allows users to create and share tablet-optimized interactive lessons and quizzes that incorporate images, video and text.
Office Sway is currently available as part of an invite-only preview (sign-ups at Sway.com). "We will be slowly issuing invites to Preview for people on the waitlist over the coming weeks/months as the Preview scales to accommodate more users," informed the company spokesperson.