Microsoft is on a roll, and now that I am turning temporarily into a developer, I appreciate them even more with very powerful code editors, and repeated decisions to open source their software (the entire Windows platform engine is going open source), and make other sensible decisions (moving to the Chromium browser rendering engine inside Edge).

The office apps are no exception, and I took some time to play around with PowerPoint on my new iPad.

The app looks and feels fantastic (I have something to aspire to), and all the basic design features work flawlessly. I find it easier to find my way around coming in “cold” then the keynote app for iPad. The small screen encourages you to design simpler slides, and spend less time adding stuff that is not essential to your story.

In 2018, things are still not perfect though. But most shortcomings are to blame on the iPad form factor, not Microsoft:

  • Presentation design is a creative process that needs space, a big screen, accurate placing of objects (fingers are less good here than a mouse). An iPad is just not a focussed design interface.

  • File management is still cumbersome on an iPad. Finding that deck from last week, opening a spreadsheet side by side, copying an image from the web browser, things that take a second on a computer are not intuitive on an iPad.

  • Because of the form factor Microsoft has cut down the features for PowerPoint on iPad. In itself, this is great (I am also focusing the features in my app), but, once the genie is out of the bottle, it is very hard to have the same application on different platforms with different feature sets, especially if you are working with collaborators on different devices. “Please create this bar chart”, is emailed to the analyst working on an iPad in the taxi who then discovers that data charts are not really supported. It also hard to create custom themes and colour schemes.

So my verdict is basically the same as in previous review: a beautiful application that is an extension of the computer version: best used for delivering presentations to small audiences, and make emergency slide edits.

Now that iPads become very powerful the logical thing to do for Microsoft, to switch to a full blown 1-in-1 copy of the desktop application as soon as it recognises that the user has hooked up a bluetooth keyboard and (let’s see if this will ever happen), a bluetooth mouse to the device.

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