As you probably know by now, Microsoft has finally released Office for the iPad. But how does this affect the conference market? Read on for our Office for iPad review!
When it comes to conference presentations, Microsoft PowerPoint is far and away the most common application used. With the introduction of Office for iPad we expect to see presenters wanting to try it live on stage.
Office for iPad is free for anyone to use to review files (or playback of PowerPoint files) but you need a subscription to Office365 to edit content. You can only save files to the local iPad or to Microsofts online personal storage, OneDrive. You can copy presentations to the iPad via the iTunes application on your computer or via Dropbox (and then use the ‘open in’ function on your iPad) but if you edit anything on the iPad it can only be saved locally to the iPad or into OneDrive. OneDrive is free for up to 7Gb of data and an additional 20Gb if you have an Office365 subscription.
After a general review, PowerPoint for iPad seems to function well, with some important caveats that we’ll cover shortly. We found that the standard animations, backgrounds and other features all seem to be supported. But there is one big issue – Fonts.
Fonts are one of the most important elements of any document – be it Word, Excel or, most importantly, Powerpoint. At the time of writing we could find no way to install fonts onto the iPad or into Office for iPad. This means that when you open a PowerPoint file on the iPad it will substitute the font with one of the standard built-in ones, changing the look of your carefully crafted presentation.
Take a look at this side-by-side comparison of an original PowerPoint file on computer vs the same file running in PowerPoint for iPad. Click the image for a larger view.
As you see, it can look very different! As any Audio Visual technician will tell you, preserving the layout and ‘look’ of someones presentation is paramount and without the ability to install fonts it is impossible to guarantee a perfect result.
So what if it looks different?
You might think that it doesn’t really matter – the content is still there so who cares? Fonts however are very important. Without the right font the text could fall outside the page or overlap the images. After having spent hours perfecting their presentation, an unexpected change can make the presenter uneasy and nervous. Their message could be lost!
Fonts can be integral to a corporate or product brand – can you imagine Coca-Cola being happy if their special font was suddenly replaced with Arial?
There is another font issue that can compromise the integrity of a presentation. If you have ever been a part of a scientific or statisticians conference you probably have come across MathType.
MathType is a specialised font designed to display complex mathematic equations. If a presentation with MathType is going to run on a Windows PC you can download and install the free MathType font. On a Mac you have to install the 30 day trial of DesignSciences MathType for Macintosh which will also install the font. Once the trial expires you will still have the font. Don’t worry – DesignSciences themselves recommend this solution.
So what about Office for the iPad? At the time of writing we could not find a way to install fonts on the iPad so basically Office for iPad can’t be use to display this type of presentation.
In conclusion we believe that Office for iPad is a big step forward for mobile productivity, but at this point we would suggest against using it to run presentation in a live conference unless the speaker knows and understand the limitations and the presentations use very simple, standardised fonts.
We hope that has helped you out! Call us on 02 9940 3776 or contact us for an obligation free quote!