PowerPoint for iPad – Practical Review

What is a practical review? Well, it is a review which focuses less on technology and more about its usefulness. I will also provide guidelines on when PowerPoint should be used on iPad and when you need the full desktop product.

The idea is to make sure that you know what is possible and what is not – so that  you don’t have any surprises DURING a presentation!

PowerPoint for iPad review by Dr. Nitin Paranjape

Please note that the feature set discussed here is as on – 9 April 2014. I am sure that more features will be added in future updates. If there is a significant feature enhancement, I will cover it in a future article.

PowerPoint always opens in Landscape mode – irrespective of how the iPad is setup. This is useful because most presentations are in widescreen format nowadays.

Store presentations on OneDrive or OneDrive for Business

Make sure that you have configured the service in PowerPoint. If not, you can also open presentations from the OneDrive application. But configuring PowerPoint to open directly from OneDrive is extremely convenient. That is what you should do as soon as you install it.

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Choose File menu click on your name on the top and choose Add a Service. Now you can choose from OneDrive or OneDrive for Business. Not familiar with OneDrive, then read this article which I wrote few days back – What exactly is OneDrive?


You can open only one presentation at a time.

Delivering presentations

PowerPoint for iPad is well suited for presenting. Of course you need to have the necessary adapter to connect to HDMI or VGA port of projectors or large display screens.

Embedded video and audio DOES NOT play as of now. This can be a serious problem.

Best Practice: Rehearse the entire presentation before delivering it live.

Delivering the presentation is easy. Choose Slide show menu and choose – From first slide or current slide. The run from current slide button is always visible – irrespective of which menu tab is open.


During the presentation, you cannot zoom in or out – using Pinch Zoom. I am sure all users are going to demand this feature because it works so well on a Windows tablet.

It does have a nice feature to show a laser pointer. While presenting, just touch the screen for a second or two. Do NOT remove the finger. Now you will see a beautiful looking red hot laser pointer. Move your finger and the laser follows it.

Use it to highlight areas of interest or to explain specific objects / bullets in the presentation.

During the presentation, swipe from the top to get the available options. One option allows you to annotate using a pen or a highlighter. You can also choose the color. You can make the slide blank temporarily – usually done to attract attention to the speaker rather than the slide (or to discuss some unrelated but important topic).

Saving is Automatic

AutoSave is ON by default. You can set it off. I don’t see any reason why you would want to do so. But it is shut off by PowerPoint itself in a specific situation – and you should be aware of that. If two or more people edit the same file simultaneously, AutoSave is turned off. We will discuss this in the next article.


Remember to scroll and see

Many menu items open as big drop downs. But what you see in the dropdown may not be all. There may be more below. Therefore, whenever you open a dropdown, just try to scroll down. You will NOT see a scroll bar to visually indicate that there is something more below.

The scroll bar becomes visible when you attempt to scroll – which is absolutely useless. But that is how the “Modern”, “Cool”, “app like” user interface is supposed to be. Beautiful yet confusing. Here I cannot blame Microsoft. In Windows, scroll bars are always visible when you have more stuff below (or above) which you cannot see in a list or a dropdown. But I guess MS was constrained to follow the new, apparently fashionable but practically limiting

Editing the presentation

I would call the editing capabilities as “touch up” capabilities. The most common features we need AFTER a presentation is already created on a PC are included.

Although the feature set is minimal, the way it has been implemented with finesse. It is a textbook entry on how to create iPad applications. The menus and buttons are designed to make it simpler to work with the imprecise input device called Finger!

Color and font galleries are easy to use.

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Insert menu


The New Slide button shows all the masters and layouts. Which is nice.

Table does not give you any flexibility. It just creates a table with three rows and columns. You then have to edit everything manually. Table layout options are nice and simple.

It says insert Pictures – which sounds like multiple pictures can be added. But I could not do it. Only Camera Roll was shown – not even OneDrive. I am sure people will want OneDrive, DropBox as well as just locally saved files on iPad to be visible…

Picture styles, Shadows and Reflections are three galleries available to modify the pictures. Sophisticated things like Artistic effects, Background Removal, Recoloring, etc. can only be done on the PC.


All the shapes are available. Shape styles allow you to change the Format quickly.



This is where it shines. ALL the transitions from the full version are implemented here. Visually stunning. Effect options can be edited as well.

Apply to all slides is a dangerous button. If you press it by mistake, same transition will be shown for all slides.  Bad idea.

Read this article to learn how to use transitions effectively – Show Off Demo – PowerPoint Transition “Crush”

Review tab

It is a very simple implementation. You can only see comments. Not edit them.

Obviously, this ability is absolutely necessary. Hope it is added soon.

Although you cannot edit comments, you can add and edit notes. It is easy to miss the notes button on the bottom right corner. Open it and then it gives you large area to edit notes.

Sharing presentations

This is a simple and easy menu which is available from the people icon on top right corner  as well as the Save As dialog upload icon.


Few featured templates

Finally, if you want to start from scratch, there are few templates shown. These are nice. But you have a limited choice. On PC, we can even choose variations – which are not available here.


As a version ONE product, this is brilliant. You may not be impressed with the feature set, but the bulk of the work has gone into the behind the scenes infrastructure which is a solid foundation. I am sure, more features will be added soon – and on a long term basis.

Do not try to compare it with the full version or the web version. Full version is the ultimate powerhouse. The web version does have more features than the iPad version – so you can use it from iPad itself if you like. But the USP of iPad version is that it is created for iPad. It looks, feels and behaves like a native application – flawlessly and with finesse.

Use it for quick and easy editing, last minute changes and for presenting. Remember not to touch the videos (which appear as images).

Even if many features are missing, when you open, edit and save presentations in iPad, nothing will be lost or corrupted. This sentence is easy to write but unimaginably difficult to implement. We as users have no idea of the complexity associated with backward compatibility. That is why the applications have a large footprint.

Use it and Enjoy it.


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