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First Look: Keynote '09, presentation software

updated 11:00 am EST, Mon January 12, 2009

First Look Keynote 09

Keynote is the oldest and most mature program of the iWork suite, which has regularly bested Microsoft PowerPoint in features and ease of use from its inception. With the latest version, Apple has continued innovating to keep Keynote '09 the star of the entire iWork suite.

The most dramatic new feature of the program is its enhanced animation capabilities. In the past, creating animated objects involved selecting one and defining a specific path for it to follow. Animating a single object was easy, but getting multiple objects moving smoothly involved tedious trial and error.

The new Magic Move tool eliminates the problem. Users produce a slide with objects in a starting position, then create a duplicate. The second slide represents endpoints; after turning on Magic Move, the software generates middle transition animations automatically.

As an example, one slide can show playing cards scattered across a screen, while the next can show the cards neatly stacked in a deck. When activated during a presentation, the cards will appear to arrange themselves.

Although the real power of any presentation is in the usefulness of its information, animation and transitions can make an event more visually appealing. That's why Apple has beefed up the app's animation and transition effects with a greater variety of options.

Many presentations may include audio and video files. Such content tends to be large however, and if you need to e-mail a presentation to someone, just a handful of media files can fatten it to several megabytes in size. For some e-mail accounts, this can make Keynote documents impossible to send or receive.

Apple has, fortunately, added a new file reduction feature. If you add a five-minute audio or video clip for instance, but only use 40 seconds of it, you can strip away the unused portion and shrink the total size of a presentation to a more manageable level.

Perhaps the most unique new feature of Keynote '09 is Keynote Remote, a separate, 99-cent iTunes app which turns an iPhone or iPod touch into a remote control, operated via Wi-Fi. An entire presentation can be controlled through the program; users shift between slides with a finger swipe, eliminating the need to sit in front of a keyboard. The app is also able to display any notes you've written for slides. This lets you walk freely around a room, simultaneously preventing audience members from reading ahead.

Two potential problems with Keynote Remote are the added cost of the app itself and the need for an Apple handheld. A third, more important limitation is that if you don't have a Wi-Fi connection, the software becomes entirely useless.

To make presentations even easier to create, Apple has added eight new themes, along with the ability to save and send Keynote, PowerPoint or PDF files through Mail. Just be aware that you may lose visual effects when saving to PowerPoint or PDF -- as a result, sharing presentations with other Keynote users can be simple, but sharing them with Windows users who only have PowerPoint may force you to scale back.

Keynote '09 is the one iWork program that completely overwhelms its Microsoft counterpart. PowerPoint may be good, but Keynote is still much better. With simpler and unique graphics effects, Keynote Remote, and a file reduction feature, Keynote remains the best presentation program for Macs.

by MacNN Staff



  1. srmoll

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No Wi-Fi!?

    "A third, more important limitation is that if you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection, the software becomes entirely useless."

    Err! Not quite! The same problem would exist when I use the iTunes Remote app, on my iPod Touch and my PowerBook. So when I'm away from my home network, I set the PowerBook to create a network, the iPod signs onto that, and the remote app works again. I'm guessing the Keynote Remote app will work just the same way.

  1. Zkatz007

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @srmoll is right

    Do the MacNN editors even use a Mac? It's not terribly hard to figure that one out.

  1. iphonedev

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In addition to the stand-alone features in Keynote, Apple's cloud computing foray by provides a very useful feature for collaborating on Keynote presentation. has some great details on new features.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No Wi-fi??

    Well, if you have a mac without a WIFI card in it, it probably doesn't support installing iWork '09 anyway.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    it's been done before

    There was a French company a while back that enabled Keynote control as well as control of iTunes and other media stuff on your machine over a WiFi connection and AJAX.

    You could browse libraries, do searches, the whole nine yards, so it looked to be worth the $20. I wonder how their pricing models will change against a 99 cent app that does only one feature of their overall set.

    On a side note, someday we'll be able to u se a Bluetooth connection for stuff like this. Then we'd have a decent remote.

  1. Wingsy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I just got my iWork09 and fired it up. Little Snitch reported several new connections, all of which I allowed EXCEPT one to! What the h*** is iWork wanting to connect to THAT place for???? That is so very un-Apple-like.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: bluetooth

    On a side note, someday we'll be able to u se a Bluetooth connection for stuff like this. Then we'd have a decent remote.

    What? That would cause apple to actually try to improve the bluetooth in their iPhones. If that happened, people might actually be able to use wireless headphones for music. Or to sync/transfer files. Man, that would just open too big a security risk.

  1. 010111

    Joined: Dec 1969


    GSM interference?

    is there a way to turn off the cell radio yet leave the wifi radio on on an iphone? i have not noticed it... airplane looks to turn off both.

    cause the GSM interference combined with a wireless lavaliere mic ... or wired for that matter makes for some reeeeeal crappy sound.

    nothing sounds nicer than some GSM phone downloading a ton of data amplified over loudspeakers. in the middle of a talk.

  1. Rolando_jose

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How come...?

    Apple is recently doing this remote thing, when I have been doing it from my Sony-Ericsson's with saling clicker via bluethoot!

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