An Introduction to PowerPoint on the iPad

PowerPoint iPad

Office for the iPad just recently hit 27 million downloads. Those are impressive numbers; but what do users think of the application? We at CMW have concluded that while Word and Excel hit the mark, PowerPoint has a ways to go before it catches up to Keynote. But it’s a good first effort. Here’s what we like so far.

User Experience

In developing PowerPoint on the iPad, Microsoft was determined to create an app that was neither a stripped-down version of PowerPoint 2013 for the desktop nor a blown-out version of Office for the iPhone (the mobile version of Office they released last year). The goal was to create an entirely new user experience specific to the device the program was being used on. In other words, they wanted to start from the ground up. Which is why the user experience aspect of PowerPoint on the iPad is getting rave reviews. The touch functionality is dead on. And the familiar PowerPoint features have all translated to the iPad in an extremely intuitive way.

When creating the app, Microsoft had to walk a fine line in creating an entirely new PowerPoint without maligning its existing fan base. While users are becoming more and more comfortable using mobile devices, the reason for PowerPoint’s longevity is the familiarity of the program; and Microsoft did not want to lose that.

Presentation Features

Since the app is developed for use on a mobile device, PowerPoint on the iPad could not include every feature from the desktop version. Their first step was to analyze the data and market research to define what features their users were using most. The features they landed on include the full array of text functionality: addition, deletion, font changes, formatting and alignment. You can also add and format new tables, shapes, text boxes, photos, and slide transitions.

Although the features are the familiar ones we’ve come to love using, we would say the program is a huge departure from the desktop version. Its Microsoft features with Apple implementation. And we love it. Unfortunately, users aren’t agreeing with all of the omissions Microsoft landed on. Here are some features users are missing.

Audio and Video

Major pain point number 1 – there are no video or audio capabilities in this version of the application. With the latest trends in presentation design leaning toward images and away from heavy copy, video is becoming a vital component of presentation design. Without it, users may find it difficult to accomplish the engagement goals of their presentation.


You can insert photos and images, and easily move them around on the page and resize them. But you cannot crop the images. To crop images, you have to export them to external software, crop them, and then import them back into PowerPoint. There is no Clip Art or Smart Art. You also can’t insert slide numbers, which can be a huge drawback if you have remote audiences following along with your presentation.

Animation and Themes

There are more themes to choose from in PowerPoint then there are in Keynote.  But while you can select a theme for a new slideshow, you cannot change the theme of an existing presentation. You can add and edit slide transitions, but there is no animations feature within the app. Animations that exist when you import the presentation will play in slideshow view, but you cannot add or change them once you are in the platform. Some users may find this challenging if they want to change their presentations directly on their iPads just before they present, which from our experience is generally the case.


From what we can see, cost is also a pain point with users. You can download the PowerPoint on the iPad application from the Apple Store for free. But you can only use the free version to review and present. If you want to make changes or create a new presentation within the application, you need a subscription to Office 365 which is $6.99 – $9.99 per month (depending on which subscription you purchase). This comes out to roughly $99/year. With the account, you get access to Microsoft’s cloud storage platform OneDrive which you need to transfer files to and from the iPad.

Parting Thoughts

While PowerPoint on the iPad is a strong step in the right direction, it has a way to go to catch up to Keynote. We would be hesitant to recommend our clients use PowerPoint on the iPad until we see what the next version has to offer. The lack of editing features could make it a challenge if there are last minute changes to content, layout, or design. For now, we are going to continue to steer them toward Keynote. If they prefer PowerPoint on the iPad, we would recommend the presentations be developed in PowerPoint 2013 desktop then imported into the iPad application for presentation once they are fully complete and approved.

Creative MediaWorks has been designing and formatting presentations for the healthcare community since before PowerPoint was even invented. Out of that discipline grew a team of experienced professionals who truly understand the art of creating and supporting effective presentations. We perform our PowerPoint to Keynote conversions with the highest-level quality checks, ensuring that your presentation displays properly on your iPad with all of your bells and whistles intact and functioning flawlessly. Call us today at (800) 737-1123 or email us at to speak with our Creative Services manager about your next Keynote or PowerPoint presentation.