Keynote for the iPad came out on the same day as the original iPad, i.e. a little over a year ago now. Version 1.0 was already usable, though maybe only in a "yes, you can do presentations with it" way, i.e. not very comfortable but doable. Since then, Apple has - slowly, but steadily - improved the app. With Keynote 1.4, most of the major shortcomings have now been resolved. Let's have a look ...
The most visible change is the new home screen of the app. Instead of having to swipe left/right to browse through your presentations, they are now organized in a grid layout. With room for four by three presentations, you now see twelve presentations at once without scrolling.
What's not immediately obvious is that the presentations are sorted by date but that you can also sort them by name. Swipe down the grid and a Date / Name option will appear above the presentations.
New presentations can be added with the plus icon in the upper left corner. The Edit button in the upper right corner is more interesting: It makes the presentation icons wiggle (you can get into the same mode by tapping and holding down on a presentation). That looks familiar, doesn't it? Just like the app icons on the iPad home screen. However, it doesn't behave exactly like the iPad home screen.
First of all, you'll notice the absence of the familiar (X) icon. To delete a presentation, you have to select it and then tap the trash can icon that is now available in the upper left corner of the screen. This difference from how apps are uninstalled makes more sense when you realize that you can select more than one presentation. While they wiggle, you can select multiple presentations simply by tapping on them once. The plus icon then also lets you duplicate all those selected presentations, although I don't really see much sense in that option.
But wait - what else can you do with app icons when they wiggle? That's right, you can drag one on top of another and they will both be moved to a newly created folder. And that's exactly what you can now do with presentations on Keynote's new home screen!
In summary, these changes should really help those of us with a lot of presentations to stay more organized and find our way around past presentations more easily.
The rest of the Keynote app looks pretty much unchanged over the previous version. One important new feature, however, hides in the settings. Tap the wrench icon and select Settings. The last option is new: Remotes. Yes! Finally! It is now possible to remote control Keynote on the iPad.
This requires the Keynote Remote app from the AppStore (99 Cent US or 79 Euro Cent). Keynote Remote has been available for a while now and can be used to remote control Keynote for Mac OS X from an iPhone or iPod Touch. And now you can do the same with Keynote for the iPad.
There's a catch, though: Keynote Remote works over WiFi, i.e. both the iPad and the iPhone or iPod Touch running Keynote Remote have to be on the same WLAN. This shouldn't be a problem nowadays in a typical conference venue. Things may be different in corporate environments, though, especially if you come in as an external consultant to give a presentation. So the ability to use a bluetooth "clicker" would still make a nice addition. Maybe in some future update?
Correction: Turns out that Keynote Remote does work both over WLAN and Bluetooth. See Remote controlling Keynote for iOS via Bluetooth.
Why is this such a big deal? As a presenter, you want to connect with your audience. To do that, you need to be able to move around on the stage, not hide behind a lectern. Without a remote control, you are pretty much stuck there, though, since you need to be close to the iPad to change slides. Sometimes, you can get away with placing the iPad on the edge of a table but with some other rooms, this simply isn't possible. A remote control gives you a necessary degree of freedom and finally turns the iPad into a presenter's dream machine: It's light and portable, you can edit (or even create) presentations on it, you can run the presentations off of it - and now you can remote control it.
Until now, Keynote was only available for the iPad (and for the Mac, of course, but that really is an entirely different application). Version 1.4 now comes as a "universal" app that also runs on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Tip: If you already own Keynote for iPad, don't try to download it again from the AppStore via your iPhone / iPod Touch. Instead, upgrade the version on your iPad (if you haven't already done so), then sync your iPad and your iPhone or iPod Touch with iTunes. Keynote will now show up on all of your iOS devices.
As you can expect, things are a bit cramped on the smaller screen of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Still, it's nice to have Keynote on there as well (e.g. for rehearsing or flipping though your presentation) and you can even make minor corrections if needed.
Below are two unscaled screenshots of Keynote 1.4 on an iPod Touch to give you an idea:
With the redesigned home screen, organizing and keeping track of your presentations on an iPad is now a breeze. The ability to remote control presentations addresses the last big shortcoming when actually running a presentation off of the iPad
, as long a you have access to a WLAN. In summary, Keynote 1.4 is a huge step forward for Keynote for iOS and finally turns the iPad into a fully usable light-weight presentation device.