Love it or hate it, Microsoft PowerPoint rules the presentation world and with the emergence of the iPad as the most desirable business tool of recent years, opportunities for businesses to present themselves and their messages to their audience have never been greater. So what’s the problem?
Until recently, PowerPoint and the iPad just didn’t get on that well. You’d get laughed at for even attempting to open a PowerPoint document on the iPad. Things however are changing. Several compatible apps have become available and one of the best we’ve used so far is SlideShark.
The SlideShark app allows PowerPoint users to view and present presentations on the iPad. PowerPoint files are uploaded to SlideShark’s server where they are converted and optimised to run in the app. Animations, fonts, graphics and colours are all preserved. Once a presentation has been converted it is saved onto the SlideShark server where it can be downloaded and stored directly onto the iPad for offline use or shared with others.
Recent updates to SlideShark have made the app compatible with presentations containing hyperlinks and also with various cloud based services including DropBox and Google Drive for downloading PowerPoint decks.
The app is completely free to download and use at a basic level. This limits you to 100MB of storage although it can be freed up by removing old shows. If the space provided isn’t enough, it can be expanded for a yearly subscription fee.
We found uploading PowerPoint presentations through the app or through SlideShark’s website to be a very simple process and it happily converted quite large PowerPoint shows relatively quickly.
The app feels fluid and very intuitive – there was no need to revisted the demo to find a feature or work out how to navigate through the app. When in show-mode the slides progress using taps or swipes to move forwards and backwards. Swiping vertically on the screen brings up slide-sorter enabling the user to jump quickly to a specific slide or go back to the main menu.
In general, SlideShark dealt with our content well; whilst SlideShark themselves claim that advanced animations may not be compatible; we found it displayed everything we tried perfectly which really surprised us. It also managed to keep all images and graphics we had created intact too.
Our experience with SlideShark wasn’t entirely flawless though. Issues arose around how well it dealt with non-standard fonts – always an issue with PC/mac compatibility. In fact, some weren’t readable at all after they had been converted. Embedding the fonts to try to solve this issue didn’t work either, in actually resulted in the conversion process failing.
The bigger frustration with the app is that it doesn’t support slide transitions, however the app is being updated with new features all the time. We’d be really surprised if a solution wasn’t in the pipeline to be implemented soon, even so it’s a shame it doesn’t support any basic ones at the moment.
Lastly, the app is only a viewer and player. You cannot actually edit any of the slides or their content, but it was never advertised as a feature so this wasn’t really an issue. Some other apps we have used including QuickOffice or DocsToGo do allow slide editing but don’t support a lot of the animations or playback features that SlideShark does.
Overall, we are really impressed with SlideShark. Bar some small niggles which can be worked around or may even end up being improved or added down the line, it handled most of our content extremely well. If you need to show PowerPoint presentations in a slick, simple way on-the-go (and have an iPad), we would fully recommend this app!