Keynote for iPad Gets a Refresh

Keynote for iPad 1.2 improves table and font support, adds new animations, and allows copying of presentations between Keynote and services such as Apple's MobileMe iDisk.

Keynote was the first of Apple's iWork applications, and in its iPad incarnation, it's a rather polished tool for creating and editing presentations. Because the business executives and road warriors that are the iPad's target market are also the ones most in need of a powerful yet easy-to-use presentation management app, it's fitting that Keynote is the iWork for iPad application that strays least from its desktop roots.

New build and transition options take center stage in Version 1.2 with the addition of the Lens Flare, Spin and Wipe build animations and the Revolving Door, Swoosh and Wipe transition animations. As with the other iWork for iPad applications, it is now possible to group and ungroup objects, and animated builds can now be applied to grouped objects. The update also adds support for audio in builds that are imported from Keynote '09 presentations.

For images of Keynote for iPad in action, click here.

These are the places where Keynote for iPad really shines; it allows users to make last-minute changes to a presentation if necessary, and share the updated presentation in a variety of ways. Although the app for iPad is rather constrained in terms of font selection and feature support in comparison with the desktop Keynote, it is possible to make major changes to a presentation, and in some ways is far more intuitive to work with than the full-blown application for Mac OS X. This is particularly true when it comes to adding or changing the animation of a slide build or a slide transition. Even without a mouse, those tasks are more easily accomplished on an iPad than on a Mac.

Keynote for iPad 1.2 adds the ability to export presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint .ppt format. As with the other iWork for iPad applications, users of Mobile Me's iDisk service and other WebDAV-based services now have the option to copy presentations between Keynote and these services.

A number of improvements to Keynote's handling of tables are included in this release; these address the exporting of tables with customized borders, and add new text options for cells with cell-specific settings for font, size and color. Finally, Keynote '09 tables that use images as background filler for cells can now be imported and exported from Keynote for iPad, and slide size conversions that take place when importing a Keynote '09 presentation are said to be improved as well.

Another feature enhancement in the area of interoperability can be seen when opening a Keynote '09 or Microsoft PowerPoint document-Apple claims it has improved the font matching routines for this process. The company says it has also improved the process of creating or editing hyperlinks in Keynote presentations.

This release fixes a number of bugs that assert themselves when importing presentations that contain large images, when importing or exporting presentations with overlapping objects, or when importing Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Other bug fixes involve documents shared through Apple's public beta of the Website.

Although Keynote is the iWork for iPad application that I'm least likely to use, it's the one I find most useful on its own. It suffers least from the scaling down needed to adapt a desktop application for the iPad, and is a useful tool for setting up presentations in a hurry.