updated 08:00 am EDT, Thu July 4, 2013
Keynote for iCloud defines Apple's vision for web 3.0
Yesterday we took a look at the Pages for iCloud beta and were highly impressed by what Apple has achieved with its word processing and publishing application. It looks and works very much like a desktop application and pushes the envelope for what has previously been achieved with an entirely web-based app. Keynote is the next of the three iWork for iCloud beta apps in our short series looking at Apple's new iWork for iCloud suite of web apps. Is it possible to recreate a presentation app in the cloud with the full power of a desktop presentation app? It doesn't seem likely, but then it didn't seem likely that we would see what a web-app like Pages for iCloud can do in a browser.
Incredibly, Keynote for iCloud is even more impressive than Pages for iCloud. It really is jaw-droppingly good. As with Pages for iCloud, web-based apps are hardly what one might describe as being 'sexy,' but Apple has done an awfully good job doing exactly that. Creating a presentation in Keynote for iCloud is just as easy and just as natural as creating a presentation for Keynote for the desktop. Even though it is in beta form, it is already a very powerful presentation development tool. You can easily and quickly develop a presentation in Keynote for iCloud that everyone viewing it would assume had been created with a native desktop application.
When you launch Keynote for iCloud for the first time, you are presented with a range of pre-set professional templates, just as with the desktop version. Although the interface differs at present, it is possible that the next versions of the Mac and iOS versions will be updated to follow a similar design and layout approach. Regardless, having access to these templates gets you off to a quick start - or you can use a blank page if you choose. The templates also work very organically, allowing you to move and alter elements to suit your particular requirements. You really do have to do a double take to tell your brain that is happening in the cloud and via a browser.
We have already seen some of the image editing tools in Keynote for iCloud that are also shared with Pages for iCloud. Images can be dragged and dropped into the web app from the desktop and manipulated in a range of ways. Borders, shadow and opacity effects are a snap to use, while positional and spacing guides appear to help you position your image in exactly the spot that you want to move it to. You can add frames with different styles, control the width of the frames, masks, shadows and the direction of shadows and other effects. It is genuinely impressive. The ability add text and shapes, while also having full formatting capabilities means that there is virtually no element that you can't control to your liking.
The unquestionable highlight of Keynote for iCloud is the way that the web-app handles slide transitions. Just as in a native desktop app, there a wide range of live slide transition effects that can also be controlled and set at your discretion. You can set each slide transition to its own duration and also choose whether the transition will be automatic or manually triggered with a click. To cap things off, the transitions look and work exactly the same way as they do in a native desktop application. You can preview the slide deck and make further fine adjustments as necessary. And, like Pages for iCloud, it is compatible with MS Office, while files can be exported in Office formats as well.
Keynote for iCloud is pure innovation and a perfect example of Apple at its absolute best. It is exactly the same kind of Apple that we have all previously associated with the late Steve Jobs -- the type of Apple that many had wondered was still possible following Jobs' untimely passing. As Apple has done repeatedly in the past, it will leave the competition scrambling to play catch up. This is Apple skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it's been.
By Sanjiv Sathiah
First look at Pages for iCloud