Category Archives: tablet

Essential new tools for bringing presentations, using Keynote or Powerpoint, to a whole other level

Last week, I spend time on Australia’s Gold Coast in Southern Queensland attending my professional society’s Annual Conference. This year, it celebrated 50 years and I was fortunate to be asked to be a member of the Organising Committee. I also gave a pre-conference half-day workshop on Presentation Skills, as well as being a panellist for a Social Media symposium, and chairing two symposia on technologies and animal-assistive therapy.

The Presentation Skills workshop gave me the opportunity to do the “walk and the talk” to about 25 attendees, the maximum the room could accommodate comfortably.

Interestingly, the room was in a very modern Convention facility, decked out with the latest technology whistles and bells. This included screens next to each room which could be updated with information about sessions. I had informed the AV people I would be using my own MacbookAir, and I would bring up my own adaptors.

Usually, I visit a new venue the day before to check out its layout and AV facilities so I am ready to go when the first attendee walks in. On this occasion, I landed the night before, so my first chance to see the room was an hour before the scheduled commencement.

The setup for other presenters was the usual configuration now commonly found in conventions to minimise problems: you go to a “blue room” where the AV people have some networked PCs and you offer them your Powerpoint on a memory stick. They upload it to their server, and add in your name to the first slide of the symposium which lists all the presenters with names hyperlinked. That way, the session chair just clicks on the next speaker’s name, and their Powerpoint opens.

The system on the Gold Coast unusually allowed for presenter mode, such that the standard PC on the lectern could  display both the current slide and the next one, something I find incredibly useful but few others seem to use.

In this system there was no way to accomodate a Mac running Apple’s Keynote.  Which is why I let AV people know ahead of time of my particular needs. However, in my workshop room, there was a wireless USB device which allowed the Mac to be seen by the projector, but only in mirror mode, disallowing presenter mode. This wasn’t satisfactory as I am set to work in presenter mode, and I wanted to show it as part of the discussion on how to improve presenting styles.

So it was back to plan A, which was to connect the Macbook Air via an adaptor to the projection system. This proved difficult as the system wanted an HDMI adaptor, and I had brought only the usual VGA adaptor. My Bad. It now becomes standard practice when visiting a new venue to bring both, as well as an AppleTV if I want to display attendees’ laptop displays (if they have a Mac) or their iPad’s or iPhone’s. Using HDMI also means audio can be passed through as well, rather than a separate cable (which sometimes is tied down and will not stretch to the Macbook. You put your Mac where the AV team says to put it!)

On this occasion, I didn’t hook in my AppleTV, so if I was going to display attendees’ screens, another solution would be needed. For a laptop, that would mean the wireless USB dongle mentioned above; for an iOS device, they would link wirelessly to my MacbookAir using my own wifi router and software from Squirrels called Reflector. The latest version is compatible with Android and Windows devices.

If an AppleTV was connected, it would use Airplay to mirror all Apple devices. I am finding this kind of setup in lecture rooms and modern convention centres to be on the increase. The only struggle can be making sure all devices connecting wirelessly are on the same subnet mask and you know any passwords for Airplay. This is why I bring my own router, but you can also bring and connect an Airport Express which will help connect 50 devices on the same subnet, as long as it can be put in bridging mode or connected to the available network over Ethernet. If it sounds like the “just give us your plain and simple Powerpoint file” is simpler and less trouble, you’d be correct.

In days of yore, of course, this was all unnecessary, as you rocked up to your presentation with your carousel of 35mm slides, and there was no sharing of others’ work. Your transition to the next slide was audibly heard with a definitive “chunck-chunck” sound, when the slides were advanced. So in those days, transitions were audible, not visual. Occasionally, a slide would be upside down or back to front, or even get caught in the gate and melt!

I started my workshop with a couple of slides using movies and effects simply not possible with either 35mm slides, overhead transparencies, or indeed likely never seen by this audience: this is my shaking book slide which I have written about previously. Here it is again:

This is my way of sending a direct message in the first few moments of the workshop that we are doing something different today.

But I also have two other means of demonstrating this “different way” of presenting which commences even before the first slide is shown.

In an effort to impress the group we will be doing a “presentation as conversation”, I refuse to stand behind a lectern and instead stand to the left of the screen if this is possible, with the MacBook Air over on the right side near the mixing panel and connections. Thus, if the audience looks to the front of the room, they see me on the left, the screen in the middle, and ancillary equipment to the right. The task is to remain in charge of the presentation even though the screen dominates the room, and the audience expects the screen to be the main medium by which they will learn. They will soon learn however that physical layout is only a small part of their learning experience.

The second clue that something different is happening comes when the audience notices I am holding my iPad in my left hand, and I might have a small Kensington clicker in my right. It’s the iPad which will control the flow of slides with the clicker as backup. (The second backup is walking up to the MacBook and hitting one of the keys which advances the slides manually).

There was a time when I travelled to present and would place the iPad in a stand in front of me to operate as a vanity or “confidence” monitor. Most modern keynote arenas will have these on display on the floor and if you’ve watched Apple’s own keynotes or those from TED talks, you’re also likely to have seen them in action, such as here:

Steve Jobs delivering a keynote and his confidence monitors below stage in presenter mode

Steve Jobs delivering a keynote and his confidence monitors below stage in presenter mode


Above is Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, in a TED talk and her confidence monitors.

These are great if you’re unlikely to move around very much. In the case of Steve Jobs and the huge stages he once worked, several pairs of monitors were strategically placed along the foot of the stage so no matter if he was extreme stage left or right he could see the monitors. His slide stacks often contained hundreds of slides and builds, too many to memorise so confidence monitors ion presenter display are needed to keep the story on track.

In a small workshop room where space is premium and where the stand with an attached iPad could obscure the screen for some at the back, another option is needed.

And this is where my three favourite presentation augmenters come into the picture, apart from the MacbookAir and Keynote itself.

They are:

  1. An iPadAir
  2. Doceri software, installed on both iPad and Macbook
  3. Bakbone magnetic holder, attached to the iPad.

There was a time when I wanted both hands free when I presented, with my right hand surreptitiously holding the Kensington clicker so that slides or builds would advance as if by magic in concordance with what I was saying. After the first few times, I think audiences stopped trying to work out how it happened and just accepted and perhaps expected the style throughout the rest of the presentation.

This is now one of the important evidence-based rules of presenting such that audio (what I’m saying) and video (what the audience is seeing) are in sync. The two most important sensory channels (auditory and visual) work together, rather than splitting; splitting or mixing up the channels confuses an audience at a “less than conscious level” and if you keep doing it in your presentation, they will attempt to restore the balance by doing their own activities and ignoring you. That is, they will reach for their iPhone or speak with their colleague next to them.

Having “split channels” is one of the ways many presenters unwittingly disengage their audience; it is easily “cured” and will lead to improved engagement and message delivery and recall. It is an essential skill presenters need to learn, and then impose upon their slide conception and building. By example, once I have a basic draft of my slide or set of slides, I will rehearse what I will say and practice my timing of slide builds. If it seems awkward or much too fiddly, I will try to automate the builds so they flow together rather than me having to remember when to click to advance. With really complicated slides with lots of automatic builds at precise intervals, I may even export that slide as a movie and then bring the movie back onto a slide, and let it roll. But that requires a great deal of rehearsal to hit your “marks” accurately. The “shaking book” example I began with started out as a complex slide, but it now a single movie replacing perhaps 25 builds.

Recording a complex set of single slide builds also helps with those times when the presenter clicker decides to stop working, or some background operation on the Mac decides to kick in (e.g. Spotlight, or when you’ve forgotten to shut down Mail and it’s automatically connecting to the Mail server). This is when you might double click because the first click didn’t advance – except it did, but was delayed and now that beautiful point you were making has been skipped because you double clicked!

If you export the slide builds as a movie in HD, your audience will not see any loss of picture quality, and it adds a safety net to your presentation. Mind you, it can also bulk up a slide stack, so don’t go overboard either!

So nowadays I hold the iPad in my left hand rather than have it attached to an immobile stand. It’s almost like returning to the bad old days of having 3×5 cards on which you have written your main points. These were yesterday’s presenter screens, cueing you in to the next element of your story, rather than reading the notes on the slides (egregious presenter error of the highest order, except if you are expressing a quotation from a nominated source).

Initially, I was worried that I may be harshly judged if the audience saw me refer to the iPad in my hand. Previously, my use of a vanity monitor would be done as surreptitiously as using the clicker, so as not to allow the audience to see me clueing myself in. You’ll often see the Apple V-P’s glancing down at their vanity monitors during their keynotes in quite obvious fashion, certainly much more so than Steve Jobs ever did. It’s neither good nor bad, just what it is.

But now, carrying the iPad with me, roving about the room, it’s very obvious what I’m doing but I no longer concern myself that the audience is “in” on my presentation tricks. Indeed, many come up to me afterwards and ask about the arrangement I use, principally because they would like to emulate its obvious effectiveness.

This is because the software I use on my iPad allows me to mirror the Macbook’s display in presenter mode, or, mirror what the data projector is displaying to the audience. The former is important for me as I may have roamed the room and now can’t see the Macbook to cue myself into the next slide or build. The iPad mirrors the Macbook’s Keynote (or Powerpoint) in presenter mode, and lets me see current and next slide using some wonderful software called Doceri.

I’ve blogged about the Doceri software before, and it’s recently received a small update to make it compatible with iOS9. It’s from SP Controls in South San Francisco, and I continue to be a beta tester and feed back ideas for product improvement. The software has very much found a home in teaching environments such as schools and colleges, and less so in presentation arenas, not surprising given how uncomfortable with change many presenters can be.

But the other reason audiences accommodate this rather strange or unfamiliar approach to presenting comes via Doceri’s ability for me to annotate the current slide on show. When in mirror mode (the iPad is displaying what the audience is seeing), I can draw, underline, bring up other pictures to colour in, take a picture of the audience, and leap about other slides which I have stored in Doceri but not prepared for the current presentation. Should it be necessary, I can keep the current presentation going, and overlay a previous set of slide pictures should an unanticipated question or comment occur. I think we’ve all had those moments when there is that one really great slide which could illustrate a point an audience member has just raised, but it’s not in the current stack. And Doceri will also record what I’m doing for uploading to YouTube if that’s my desire.

A more primitive form of this is possible if you use your iPhone as your “clicker” such that it can also go into presenter display mode, and supply you with a laser pointer-like image you can move around the display screen by dragging on your iPhone screen. And some minimal annotation tools too, all hand drawn. Doceri lets you draw precise squares, circles and objects with its palette of tools. There is one caveat however: if you’re in single screen drawing mode, the slides won’t advance. You have to unlock and leave that mode, even when mirroring. Doceri has the option of placing a thin coloured rectangle around the slide to cue you in that it is still in drawing mode, something most viewers will not see because they’re not expecting to see it – a form of inattentional blindness.

I’ve seen presenters use their iPhone as a clicker/vanity screen but the small size of the screen, even in Plus versions, has never had much appeal. It feels ungainly to hold and manipulate.

Which is your cue to ask about holding a 9.7 inch iPad and its ungainliness. And this is where the Bakbone comes into play. Let’s show you the video so you get to see what it is:

Rather than having the Bakbone attached in the middle of the iPad’s back panel over the  logo, I have it set to one side so I can more easily reach the Home button.

Its use means I don’t have to put too much thought or energy into holding onto the iPad – it just sits on my finger. I have to tell you that after workshops nowadays, I get two questions asked more often than others: One is what software I used (especially in workshops where I am not referring to Keynote or Powerpoint), and the second is about the Bakbone, especially from teachers who are employing iPads in their classroom for whom the Bakbone is clearly going to solve some problems.

I was given a Bakbone a few years ago as part of the shwag for presenting at Macworld, and it has become an indispensable part of my presenting, freeing me up from the static use of the iPad as vanity monitor, and allowing me to be much more interactive with the slides I’ve created, facilitated by Doceri’s vast compliment of presenting tools. It is now distributed in Australia via this link

One of the Bakbone inventors, physician Paul Webber

One of the Bakbone inventors, physician Paul Webber

In the next month or so when the iPad Pro with its pencil ships, it will be interesting to see if Doceri updates to take advantage of all that extra real estate and if the Bakbone will be compatible given the iPad Pro’s extra size. I’m guessing the Bakbone crew are constructing mockups given we know dimensions and weight, to see if there are handling issues. With current tablets, the use of factory styli are said to be compromised so it will be of great interest to see if the iPad Pencil will work.

I want to conclude this entry with a fresh point I made in my workshop to psychologists last week. I took them through a visual history of presenting so as to inform them that the problem of getting information from one person into another is a very ancient human challenge. From lectures, through to drawing in the sand and on slate, through to overhead cells and now slideware, it’s a challenge to know what the evidence says is most effective and which is being held onto for reasons of social norms and tradition.

To which I offered: “If you could have done your presentation using overheads like we did in the 1960s and 1970s and even into the 1980s (the reason in fact that Powerpoint came into existence – to help the MacPlus construct cell transparencies using new LaserWriters), then did you do your audience any favours? Did you produce for your audience a modern means of learning compared to something whose origins began in WWII for military training?”

And there was one last thing I offered in this pre-conference workshop:

“You’re gonna hate me, because for the next three days of this conference, going to various symposia and keynotes from eminent scientists, you won’t be able to unsee all the presentation errors I’ve just shown you. You’ll giggle, or gasp while your colleagues are trying to concentrate on the message; but you’ll feel split because once seen, the errors can’t be unseen. Just think of it as my workshop going on for another few days!”

Emulating Apple’s Healthkit dual gradient design meme in Keynote – a video walkthrough for those wishing to learn more about Keynote

We’re currently in the throes of Apple changing the look and feel of its operating systems.

iOS 8 has just been released, revealing the influence of Apple Senior VP Jony Ive in bringing a flatter look. Yosemite is around the corner and it too will show a quite different feel from the desktop operating systems of the past few years.

When Apple makes these large scale changes, it introduces design memes which are often copied. Witness the original Bondi Blue iMac of 1998, and how it changed not just Apple’s design standards, but that of many other technologies, bringing multicoloured translucency to many non-IT products, for better or worse.

In iOS8, Apple has introduced Healthkit, a series of services combining both apps and hardware which resides on your iOS devices.

Below is a representation of some of its services:


Here, on the left you can see the Dashboard, with Calories burnt in orange above a Sleep measure, in blue, below. On the right, you can see a variety of health services and measures incorporated into Healthkit.

I now fully expect that these visual representations of data points will become a design meme many will choose to follow, with their crisp sharp images and icons.

(UPDATE: The folks at UI design outfit, Mercury, have offered a graphic of iOS8 elements here. Below is the healthkit range – click to enlarge).

Screenshot 2014-10-03 07.46.17

Here’s a screenshot I took of my own iPhone 6 screen showing steps taken these past few days:


I want you to note Apple’s use of dual advanced gradients. One is the entire orange soft edge rectangular shape containing all the relevant data, chart and information, going vertically from an orange to an almost blood red.

But I want you to also note the line chart showing how many steps I took the last few days, from September 26-October 1. Note in particular the area under the series of white lined data points, which too has a gradient from light orange to a darker hue.

I wanted to know if this design meme could be replicated in Keynote unassisted by third party drawing tools. This is one way I hone my Keynote skills, by setting myself challenges to reproduce what may have been constructed in professional design software.

The task then was to create an advanced gradient embedded on an advanced gradient.

In the video below, I walk you through one set of solutions, so that those with rudimentary Keynote skills can learn to apply some of the software’s deeper elements, such as grouping, drawing, outlining, gradients, colour matching, opacity and layering.

Bear in mind, the means I show may not be the only way to do this, and if you have more economical means (i.e., less mouse clicking), let me know in the comments.


Powerpoint so far has Apple beat when it comes to working with object layers on a Keynote slide. But perhaps the solution is in your pocket (if you carry an iPhone there)

One of my much hoped for features for the next update to Keynote is a more user friendly, visually appealing means to organise objects on a slide.

Power users have often given their presentation some extra oomph – a Wow! factor – by having objects appear from behind other objects, move to the front and then perhaps disappear behind other objects. This gives a presentation something of a 3D feel, helping to move away from boring text displayed in a flat disengaging manner. You can try and get away with plentiful text by adding some shadows, animations and greying out sections of text to highlight others.

As humans we’re built to see the world in 3D to help us detect movement, distance and relationships between objects both to defend ourselves against potential danger, as well as to attract us to food sources. There is also the small aspect of sexual attraction and seeing the world or at least a potential sexual partner in (fully rounded) 3D has much to offer (ahem!).

For some time now, both Keynote and Powerpoint have allowed users to move and align objects on a slide, sending them forward to backward, or to the front of a stack of objects or to the back.

Unusually for Apple, there has never been a visual means for doing this on a Keynote slide. You couldn’t drag an object behind another – you had to use a primitive menu item (or its equivalent keyboard shortcut), as you can see below in Keynote 5:

Voila_Capture4This is hardly intuitive, easy or granular. There was a menu bar too to give a visual reference to layering –  Front Back – but it’s very primitive in Keynote 5:


And because of Apple’s insistence on not allowing you to rename groups or objects in your build order inspector (this covers all versions of Keynote including 6), you get, below, these kinds of confusing build lists where you have to really be on task to know which object or line is selected.Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 9.06.37 pm


Notice in the build list just above with all the line builds, it finishes on build 19. But if there were 25 builds you couldn’t extend the build window to see them all in one hit; you have to scroll down the list, which means the very top builds, perhaps where you’ll drag these last builds, scroll off the table. Not good.

Keynote 6 has improved this somewhat so you can enlarge your build list and see all your builds – no more scrolling.

Each time you click on a build, the object will highlight on the slide. If the object is hidden behind layers of other objects, you won’t see its outline or a transparent effect so you can see just which object you have grabbed, but merely its resize handles – again, not very useful. I’ve occasionally found myself trying to move such “highlighted” objects, but I’ve only succeeded in moving the top most object. Meaning I can get caught in a merry go round of undo and redo commands. Clearly, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Over on the iPad and the iPhone and Keynote for iOS6 and now 7, we got our first clue that an interface change was on its way for desktop Keynote. Because we move objects around iOS screens with our fingers – we actually “touch” the object – Keynote’s user interface on them needed a different paradigm.

Here’s what it looks like with respect to object layers on the iPhone:


So having highlighted an object – its handles show up as blue dots – we can move it forward and backward with our fingers, not by touching the object but via a slider control. The iPad controls are much the same, and you see notches on the line corresponding to elements on the slide.

This interface design was not found on Keynote 5, and has not made its way into Keynote 6 at this point. The look and feel of an older Keynote for iOS has been reproduced in Keynote 6, suggesting its new interface is not yet fully baked, below:


Notice how the iOS7 version slider controls have not made their way into desktop Keynote.

A potential solution to see the arrangement of the objects in a visual way has already been offered to Apple from Microsoft’s Powerpoint for Mac 2011.

Below is a video I made after firing up my Powerpoint and importing a slide with multiple objects lined up overlapping each other which I created in Keynote 6, and exported as a Powerpoint file. It has ten overlapping elements and in the video you can see how Powerpoint represents these objects and allows you to move them and change their order. Note, however, that in moving them, their location on the slide doesn’t swap with the object it’s replacing – that has to be done manually once you’ve satisfied with your new order.

Naturally, Apple doesn’t want to blindly copy what Microsoft has done here, and kudos to its design team. I don’t use Powerpoint sufficiently to know if this solution works out well, so let me know if you use it frequently and if it’s just a pretty face or is truly functional.

Apple needs to come up with a better solution than just a slider control. And I do believe that solution is in your pocket if you have an iPhone with iOS7 installed.

One of the new features of iOS7 is its new Safari browser with a new twist on something that’s been around for a long while: Coverflow. In the Safari browser, Coverflow has become tabbed browser such that we can see all the open tabs in an animated form, as seen  from my own iPhone 5 in landscape mode:

I think perhaps now you’re starting to get the picture. Let’s take the same 10 objects inserted onto a Keynote file I used for the Powerpoint movie, and play a little with how it might look in Keynote 6. When you watch the video, below, note that I have taken some liberties with the rather empty tool bar and filled it with the front and back tabs, and played the same iPhone movie, this time in portrait mode, with the objects (the websites) popping a little to make the connection between scrolling through the popup movie and the highlighting or calling out of the object on the Keynote slide as it become the front object in the movie. It’s not pretty or that accurate, but you’ll get the idea:

What do you think? Wouldn’t it be preferable to have a visual analogue of  object layering on a Keynote slide rather than rather primitive Forward and Back tabs?

If a dumb shmo like me can come up with this, let’s hope the geniuses at Apple can bring us something truly special and functional.

Keynote 6 retains hyperlinks, but they’re buried treasure – further thoughts on Apple’s management of iWork (and a quote from Klaatu).

In my previous blog entry, my first about Keynote 6, I wrote that one of my liked features – hyperlinking slides, files, websites and emails – had gone MIA: Missing in Action.

But today I had cause to look at Keynote for iOS 7 and it has retained hyperlinks, here: Voila_Capture812

So, in Keynote on the iPad, you go the Spanner (Tools), select “Presentation Tools”, then select the first item in the drop down menu: Interactive Links.

The familiar hyperlink menu items will show themselves, in much the same layout as occurred in Keynote 5 for the Mac, along with their shortcut or alias blue arrows and associated functionality.

By now, the thought will have occurred to you: “If this feature exists within Keynote for iOS, and there is parity between iOS, Cloud, and Mac OS, where is it in Keynote 6?”

Well, here’s a screenshot of it in Keynote 6:


As you may have noticed, there is no Inspector or obvious button, menu bar or “thingy” of any sort to guide you to this Keynote element. For reasons best known to themselves, the Keynote engineers and UI designers decided not to replicate the iOS layout, only the functionality it seems.

So, how do you create Hyperlinks as per Keynote 5?

1. Highlight (select) an object on your slide.


As you can see, it’s the blue square, now with white “handles” on each side and corners to resize it.

2. Place your pointer over the object, still selected, and hold down the Control key, and click your mouse or trackpad to bring up a menu list. In this case, below, the “Add Link” option is highlighted.

Voila_Capture814If you click on this menu time, something familiar from Keynote 5 will make itself known to you:

Voila_Capture815An important question some of you may be asking, about now: How does Keynote 6 handle hyperlinked slides in Keynote 5 files? Do they get lost and messed up?

To answer that question, I imported a Keynote 5 “Family Feud” file I had created as a gift to the guys at Doceri, the iPad-based software I use to monitor and annotate my Keynote presentations. It’s very complex, containing 35 slides so all possibilities could be covered for a typical 5-item contest. (It’s based on a Keynote 3 deck I used from here, which you will need to convert to Keynote 5, before converting to Keynote 6!). Here’s what it looks like, complete with sound files – one for correct, one for – buzzzz – incorrect, and two others for the intro and outro music themes:


Notice how each of the five answer boxes has the familiar hyperlink blue arrow. This is a very complex test for hyperlinks, and here are all the answers revealed when the game ends:


I am pleased to say all the hyperlinks and related sounds remained intact, and useable. By the way, I use Doceri on my iPad when I play this game in my workshops on various subjects. Touching the bluish area outside the answer panel will produce the “wrong answer” buzz, while touching any of the black answer panels, initially with just the number on them in the first illustration, will cause the panel to “cube” down and reveal the answer, along with the pleasant “bing” sound to denote Correct!

Further thoughts on Keynote 6, and iWork’s future

These past few days of experimentation and curiosity-seeking with Keynote 6, complete with the discovery of hidden features, have helped confirm my previous thinking about Keynote’s path, going back in this blog more than a year or two.

I have previously written that all the wishing and hoping for a Keynote update might produce an Oscar Wilde epithet:

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

Predicting and hoping as I had that one of the biggest improvements to Keynote would be the addition of a precision timeline to better manage builds, transitions, movies and sounds, I also suggested this would require a complete interface rebuild. There had been hints dropped by Apple that this might happen: One way was at Macworld presenting a Presentation Magic workshop where a new Keynote team hire had attended who specialised in User Interface design. The other was Apple more recently had advertised for additional designers to join the iWork team.

Knowing what had occurred with both iMovie 08-09 and Final Cut Pro/X, I was preparing myself for the same to happen to Keynote. I would get what I wanted but at considerable expected cost. This in fact is what has happened.

But the rebuilding of Keynote was not merely an interface or veneer issue: It’s clearly a rebuild from the ground up to make parity and thus compatibility with Keynote in the cloud (for Windows users if they can dare tear themselves away from Powerpoint), and Keynote on iOS devices with their 64-bit chips.

(Judging from the Apple discussion groups for Pages 5, we Keynote 6 users got a frolic in the warm Tahitian beaches!)

This is the all important Activity Monitor graphic that begins to tell the story:


Keynote 6 (blue icon) is 64 bit, and Keynote 5 below it is 32 bit. And for good measure, the current Powerpoint for Mac (2011) is:


There’s a roadmap happening here. 64 bit ought to offer faster, more robust management of Keynote files across all Apple platforms which are 64 bit.

But the speed of the Keynote app is only a small part of the story. At the moment, Mac presenters – and now with Keynote in the Cloud and iPads, we have Windows users too – have numerous presentation software choices. But the big two remain the FREE Keynote on whatever platform (with hardware purchase or iWork 09 upgrade), or the purchase of MS Office or Powerpoint alone for a couple of hundred dollars, or a much cheaper educational bundle or a freebie thrown in by a reseller. Whatever.

There is also cloud based Google presentation software, as well as a number of open source projects of varying capabilities and compatibilities.

Apple knows how many recent copies of Keynote 09 and Keynote iOS are out there via monitoring of its online App stores. It can see where its buyers are: desktop vs iOS. We know 170 million iPads have been sold, all of which can use Keynote for initially $9.99, and now free. Hmm… how many copies of Keynote for Mac OS do you think are out there, being used on Macs? To paraphrase Steve Jobs (2007): “Are you getting it yet?”

Power users of Keynote, like Final Cut Pro users who abandoned ship, have every reason to feel Apple has thrown them under the bus, including all those – like me – who “sold” the Mac platform to Windows users on the basis of Keynote 5’s attributes alone. Any Keynote power user who has followed the usual fare of Powerpoint demoes at a conference or convention has become adroit at discussing each software’s pros and cons when audience members shocked at what a computer can do on a big screen – shocked, I say! – come up and are crestfallen to discover you didn’t use Powerpoint (they kinda knew that) and Keynote is Mac only, at least “back then”.

Now many may feel that, just as Apple cannibalises its own products when it introduces a new iPod or iPhone, they too are being fed as human sacrifices (OK, calm down, their work is) to lesser mortals: non-power users, Johnny-come-latelies who have not paid their dues during Apple’s beleaguered days, and who have come to the Apple community via iOS devices, not Macs.

It’s as if Apple owes power users and pro presenters something for their patience, loyalty, proselytising, evangelising, cleverness and demoing. As a long time President of a Macintosh user group (iMUG), I’m very aware of our place in the Apple firmament: more of a pesky nuisance than anything else. Apple resellers too have discovered their place in the same universe, soon after Apple opened their own bricks and mortar  as well as online stores. We know how that worked out, and is still evolving.

It’s another way of saying: This Keynote is not for you, but the millions who will put it to good use with their first Mac and their first iPad, and perhaps even their first presentations. There: I’ve said it. Get used to a new reality.

So, stay with Keynote 5 and the years of building great, Powerpoint-busting Keynote files, which will still operate in Mavericks on laptops which will have better power usage. Buy an AppleTV and a Kanex VGA-HDMI adaptor so even with older VGA projectors you can be wirelessly roaming the lecture theatre with your Macbook Air or iPad (mirroring and controlling the Air via Doceri or similar).

But every so often, break out Keynote 6 and see what it has to offer. There ARE some improvements, and I and others will blog about them soon.

There’s clearly plenty of room for Keynote to improve. We’re at the bottom of an upgrade cycle, not the top. If you return to Powerpoint, where will it go next? More bloatware masquerading as new features because Microsoft has manoeuvred itself into a corner – its hardware is not setting the world on fire, competing with its own OEMs who are not happy. It needs to keep selling software because that’s its business.

So every two years or so, its Office suite gets a visual overhaul accompanied by much muttering – think Ribbon – and features which just bog it down. There are those who can do wonders with Powerpoint, and each year they meet and show off what their presentation software can achieve, here. (One day, its convenor Rick Altman, will work up the courage to invite a Keynote specialist to attend to give demoes and comparisons – Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte don’t count since they themselves would likely not self-describe as Keynote specialists or evangelists, but more presentation skills builders).

My advice is this: Learn from the Final Cut Pro/X users who stayed the distance, as well as taking a more long term view of where Apple is heading. It knows that in a few years time, laptops will become even less conspicuous and PCs will be relegated to “Big Iron” kind of duties in number crunching and rendering farms. Apple doesn’t just know, it’s working to make it happen.

The A7 chip, iPad, iOS and 64 bit computing is the beginning of the next cycle of personal computing, and Keynote is at the beginning of its next development cycle. It marks the end of presenting with Keynote as we used to do it. Those using Powerpoint simply don’t know it yet, but their usual way of presenting will not stand up to the task of 21st Century learning, creativity and knowledge management.

So, you have a few choices as I see Apple offering it. To paraphrase Klaatu,

Your choice is simple: join us and think and present differently, or pursue your present course and face disengagement.

Keynote presentation power users: Don’t upgrade to Keynote 6 until you’ve read my experiences with the new version. You’ll save yourself much grief. (The news is not all bad).

It’s now been a few days since the October Apple keynote announcing new products and services. Much to many Keynote presentation software users’ initial delight, Keynote 6 was announced, almost five years after the last significant update.

I write “initial” because for many, to judge from Apple’s own discussion support groups, and others on Yahoo, this update feels retrograde, with too many existing elements cast out, and insufficient hoped-for new features added.

Indeed, some expected they could open their existing and in some cases very complex Keynote 5 files and expect them to somehow be transformed magically into something ethereal. Or at least just work.

I did this too, only to watch a shopping list roll down before my eyes, of missing builds replaced by a default “dissolve”, missing transitions – ditto – and missing fonts.

This of course was the same experience I “enjoyed” when I opened Keynote on the iPad the first time in July, 2010, again with the hope of full compatibility.

When that didn’t happen, and another year went by with no upgrade to Keynote (but numerous updates to the iOS version), Apple’s intentions for iWork became clear.

So, before you go installing iWork – actually the three apps that used to be referred to as iWork – please bear the following thoughts I have previously cast on this blog in mind. And then I’ll make some recommendations. Don’t rush in – I did before the free update for iWork DVD installed apps actually became free (it took about 24 hours after the October keynote), and paid $40 for Pages 5 and Keynote 6.

On this blog, I have suggested, not based on insider knowledge, but a long time user and observer, that Keynote 5 would not receive an update until there could be parity between iOS and Mac OS versions.

With the A7 chip and Mavericks, and the maturing of the “iWork in the cloud” beta,  that has come about. It’s a distinct poke in the eye to Microsoft and we long term power users of Keynote are the poker. We have been sacrificed on the alter of “progress”, parity, and another nail in the Microsoft hegemony/monopoly/”we control the vertical – we control the horizontal” – attitude to the consumer.

But I also predicted much gnashing of teeth from said Keynote users would parallel our colleagues in the Final Cut Pro sector who had hoped for further evolution of their professional “It pays the bills” software, only to be rendered (ahem!) Final Cut X. For some it felt as if an iMovie Pro had been thrown at them: They were insulted as power users. The same can be now said to be happening to Keynote power users, who’ve been with the program for a decade.

Many in the Final Cut Pro world of course left for seemingly greener grass and the open arms of Adobe and Avid, who facilitated this unexpected gift from the gods. But those who stayed with the Apple program have apparently received their reward as FCP X has matured, and now we see it matched to the Mac Pro. One can reason with some predictability that the same  iterative process will happen with Keynote given how well it had been selling on both desktop and iOS devices, and especially for the latter, the generation of schoolchildren with iPads who will never touch Powerpoint.

For now, I am following my own advice:

1. Install KN 6 (and Pages 5) on the Mavericks partition on my Macbook Air (Haswell). Do not install on the Mountain Lion/Keynote 5 partition. KN6 does not work under ML. (I have a developer license for Mavericks). Make sure your Time Machine has been put to good use.

2. Duplicate mission critical keynote files and transfer them to the Mavericks partition, and convert them to KN6 and see the tragedy that unfolds…. dissolve, dissolve, dissolve…

2a. IMPORTANT:  If you have installed Mavericks on a single partition  and now have KN6 and KN5 on the same hard drive as your KN5 files, don’t double click these files to work on them. They will open in KN6, which will try to convert them. If you want to work on them in KN5, rather than play in KN6, first open KN5 then either use the “Open…” menu item or drag the files you wish to use onto the KN5 icon in the dock.

Mavericks sees KN6 as the default for ALL Keynote files. You’ve been warned.

3. See if some of my proudest achievements in Keynote can be fixed in KN 6 (e.g. shaking book) or at least repaired or even improved; hey, you never know. (Have Kleenex tissue at the ready). Update: there are improvements to be made, and even less clicking in some cases. I will post later how I fixed and improved the Shaking book effect. I do believe Apple was inspired by it via the inclusion of a new “jiggle” effect, as well as a new “pulse” build.

4. Explore which of my third party KN stuff, from developers like Jumsoft, etc., remain compatible, including motion background themes (QT looping) movies. Monitor their websites for signs of life.

UPDATE: Sadly for now, Quicktime movies with transparent backgrounds which I like to use a lot are currently broken. Much unhappiness in the 3rd party add-on industry over this. For many,  this will mean staying with Keynote 5 not just to keep doing what they’ve been doing, but even for creating new presentations from scratch. If you open these same files with their transparent QT movies in KN5 in Mavericks, they work. Below, an example of a beating heart from Jumsoft, and what happens in KN6.

5. Check out how my helper apps may have been affected, e.g. Doceri for annotating slides, and whiteboarding in Keynote. UPDATE: Doceri is fine – phew! OTOH, Animationist with its beautiful titling effects, will suffer for the same reasons as listed in 4., above: transparency loss.

6. Keep reading blogs and Apple discussion lists for hidden gems (yeah, right! Much gnashing of teeth currently. Most major websites such as Ars Technica, iMore, CNet currently all carry mainly strongly negative “what were they thinking/smoking” jibes at Apple’s iWork engineering team.

7. Watch for KN 6.0.1 to address some of the shortcomings, bugs, etc. This has got to be a long term process and will surely test many long term users resolve. Prezi will welcome them, some will return to the bosom of Powerpoint (“The herd may stink, but at least it’s warm”) while some like me will divvy the work between KN5 and KN6 in the short term.

8. Stick with my day job as a clinical psychologist, and presentation skills trainer where even current KN on the iPad is better than how most use Powerpoint on the desktop – seriously. That’s not to say Powerpoint on Windows doesn’t have a hugely impressive feature set – it does. But 95% of presentation only ever use 5% of its capabilities – in other words, dull, or replete with the most awful “art text”.

9. My guidance to you: If you’re doing mission critical presenting right now, stay with KN 5 even on Mavericks. Only if you’re starting a new project from scratch, or have the time and energy to update your older files to KN6 (and learn what repairs you’ll need to do), do you employ KN6.

10. There are some immediate disappointments. I am unhappy to lose the Fall transition; the lack of a timeline for precision build timings appalls; while item grouping has improved (more on this in a later blog article), multiple grouped items are all still named “Group”, making it difficult to navigate busy files with numerous groups needing to be layered. Smart builds, like those rotating turntables and object swapping has been dropped. The Keynote engineering team were always disappointed in their take-up, even though they had a huge splash when Steve Jobs first showed us the iPhone. Remember the spinning elements: “It’s an iPod; it’s a phone; it’s an internet communicator – are you getting it yet?”,  created with Smart Builds.

UPDATE: The loss of hyperlinking within a KN file, and between KN files is for me, a serious one. It will change some of my conceptualisation of knowledge transfer, and my attempts to be more immediate and less linear in my teaching.

One must remember that KN1 initially did not have hyperlinking, and it made its first appearance many years later. It’s not the most used of its features to judge from Keynote workshops I have conducted; of course, after I showed what it could do in terms of audience engagement, I’m sure many explored it further. I do expect it to return in a KN6 update.

FURTHER UPDATE: It’s there in KN6. But buried. I am working on a new blog article about it.

11. Slide editing of Quicktime movies remains the same: Imprecise, and only one “In” and “Out” point for each movie. I would have hoped how movies can be edited on the iPhone might have made its way into Keynote, but it will surely come later.

So, in summary, it’s not the gee whiz, pull out all the stops, show us what you can really do Apple upgrade starved Keynote artists had been hoping for after five years. Our imaginations filled the void, ignoring where Apple is making its money, with iOS devices.

But now that we see a road ahead, powered by A7 chips in iOS devices which will no longer be referred to as toys, or media consumption devices (go back and rewatch the Apple video showing the diversity of iPad uses which starts with the wind energy generators), these content creation devices will drive Keynote further.

There may be a surprise awaiting us with a Keynote Pro with a look and feel of Apple’s Pro software like Final Cut X and Aperture (we can dream), but for now there is a workflow for power users, and that is to keep doing what you’re doing with Keynote 5, and find the time to play with Keynote 6 and become curious and explorative. There are some hidden surprises I will blog about soon.

Apple’s iPhone 5C and S event: Did it reveal new features of a Keynote software update due very soon?

For presenters and especially Apple Keynote users, last week’s iPhone 5C and S keynote contained some hints as to Keynote’s roadmap.

While many Apple observers lamented the lack of surprises at this event, there were several unexpected signs that desktop Keynote hasn’t been forgotten, given its last significant update was January, 2009.

1. I’ve been saying for some time now that much of the iWork team’s resources has been spent on iOS versions, to the neglect of desktop iWork. Far from being almost an afterthought with the introduction of the iPad, Keynote on the iPhone and iPad has proven itself a very worthwhile addition to those presenting in schools, colleges, government agencies, and corporate settings. Apple has acknowledged Microsoft’s failure to compete in the Tablet sector, as well as its recalcitrance to port its cash cow Office to the iOS ecosystem. It has done this by releasing iWork apps to all newly sold iOS devices, free. With iWork for iCloud also having moved out of beta allowing those in the Windows ecosystem to see and create with Keynote, rather than using Powerpoint, it’s another potential nail in the Powerpoint coffin. (It will need lots of nails to seal that coffin!)

2. The employment of the A7 CPU in the iPhone (and one might expect in upcoming iPad refreshes), one of the main complaints I’ve had of Keynote on the iPad – it’s lack of desktop feature parity – may well be overcome. I’ve said for some time that once Keynote for iOS can match the features and power of desktop Keynote, then the latter will received its much anticipated update, making transferring files between the two UNIX-based platforms seamless.

3. While many Keynote users watch these product update keynotes for hints of what the next version might bring, our patience is often tested and unrewarded. But it’s just possible we did see last week a hint of what the next version of Keynote might include.

I’ve been thinking for some time that it’s taking a very long time for presentations to shift to a much more visual style. I’m working on a blog article about that, especially for those in the sciences and medicine, but I think it’s safe to say one of the most egregious mistakes presenters make is their inclusion of too much text on a slide. It’s as if all they do is write their paper in Word, then dump the text on a slide, denuding it of grammar, and adding the obligatory bullet points and sub-sub headers.

Clearly, helping presenters move away from such slides is a major challenge, so perhaps the task is to meet them half-way, especially for those where text is central to their presentations such as the law and regulatory agencies. So I’ve even been thinking that rather than adding new themes (backgrounds), transitions and builds, Apple’s next Keynote will feature some major text builds, including call outs, highlights, and other ways to acknowledge the importance of text, while still delivering animated, engaging presentations.

What follows below are screenshots from last week’s iPhone event, which you can download in iTunes or watch via AppleTV and its Apple events app. It’s possible that I will show was created outside of Keynote, but here’s hoping it’s evidence of a new upcoming text feature. You can also view the keynote via YouTube, which Apple has recently posted:

1.  We start where Apple CEO Tim Cook announces that Apple will release not one but two new iPhones, which we see as outlines.Image

and hands over the slide controller to Worldwide Marketing VP, Phil Schiller, below.


Before he says a word, Schiller clicks the slide controller below,


and we return to the outline of one iPhone.


Them Schiller launches into his announcement about the iPhone 5C. What comes next is difficult to describe in static pictures and words, so a viewing of the Quicktime movie of the event is recommended. But let’s have a try, anyway.

As Schiller sets up the iPhone 5C announcements, the iPhone outline, together with the circular home button icon, begin a wipe build out. Not your usual one with Keynote 09’s limitations, but they seem to follow the lines themselves, rather than top to bottom, or left to right, etc., below:


More progress showing the lines being wiped:


Until there only remains the right side of the outline, and a small crescent of the Home Button. But the animation  then continues, and we see new shape forming in a continuous sequence:


as the letters iPhone 5c begging to build in as a random letter wipe:


and continues:






until we almost see the whole word:


Later, when Schiller introduces the 5S, he repeats the same build-in style:


Now I’ve tried to replicate these builds using the current complement of Keynote elements which is my wont when I posit Apple has snuck in a new feature, but without success – perhaps you will find away to duplicate it. So it seems this is a new text build, which is likely extended to line, shapes and images such that outlines can be built in other than with wipe builds.

Later in the keynote, when the iPhones’ release dates per country are spelled out, there is another text effect, but this time it can be easily duplicated with the existing features, using scale and move builds. It occurs when Schiller highlights China in the list of the first tranche of countries to receive iPhones, September 20th.

Here’s the sequence:


And we see China enlarge moving the other countries away:


I tried to simulate this textual effect using Magic Move over two slides, but it turns out you can use one slide giving the first three countries atop China their own text box, then China in its own box, then the remaining countries in a third box. One simply moves the last group of countries down, scale and move China, and slightly elevate the top three countries with a move build, and you’re done. Here’s my version:

It’s certainly a good lesson in calling out specific words in a heavily text based slide, rather than using colour, movement or – please, no! – a laser pointer!

When might we see a new Keynote?

Apple has at least one major event to come this year, likely October with Macs, Mavericks, and iPads the feature artists. I expect that when new Macs and Mavericks (OS X 10.9) is officially released, which will finally allow AppleTV to utilise Keynote’s Presenter Display and allow complete untethering of your MacBook Pro, this will be a great time to show a brand new iWork. I expect, at least for Keynote a very significant upgrade with a bountiful supply of new features to take advantage of Mavericks and Keynote on 64-bit iOS devices. (I also expect some kind of mid-level database to be added to iWork, what with the demise of Filemaker’s Bento).

In the next week or two. I’ll publish on this blog a new post regarding scientific presenting at conferences, as well as seminars and in-house symposia to address several traditional presentation errors which have ossified for too long, and where change is vitally necessary.

PayPal Here, a card reader and app for taking payment on your iPhone or iPad finally comes to Australia, getting in before Square and Apple’s likely credit card system.

Some time back, I introduced a video from Square in my “IT for Psychologists” workshops which I offer in Australia. At the time, Square was just beyond being a startup.

Square offered a small hardware device which plugged into your iPhone headphone jack and communicated with its own app so you could accept credit card payments. The Square card reader “swiped” the card, and the money would soon enough be transferred to your nominated bank account.

The video still excites many of my colleagues even though it was made several years ago, and it’s yet to be made available in Australia. It’s been reported that Square has since enjoyed an investment from VISA after initial warnings of “security issues” from Verifone, a maker of card readers More recently, Square has expanded its wares to purposely include iPad-expanded abilities for point-of-sale businesses.

There has been talk of Square coming to Australia, where many psychologists use those old bank-leased card readers, which usually means you also need to have a landline, or a more expensive 3G model. Some like to use it because one bank has arrangements with Australia’s Medicare national medical health scheme, allowing payments to be made directly into the psychologist’s nominated account.

But for the many solo psychologists who work in multiple locations, these solutions are not particularly cost-effective, since one pays a monthly fee for the lease, as well as a percentage per transaction, a 30c fee, and other ancillary set-ups fees.

It’s essentially a monopoly situation, which I have rejected in my own practice.

For those who want to pay me by credit card, they receive ahead of their appointment, advice that credit card payments can be made via PayPal, with a surcharge of $5 to cover the fees I am charged (a little under 3%). This keeps the banks in their place.

The other electronic alternative (cash is certainly accepted; cheques are a dying monetary exchange system in Australia) is direct debit, where the patient can make an online payment from their bank account. Neither they nor I receive any costs for this transaction. For that reason, I have the apps of the most popular banks installed on my iPad, so patients can either pay at the end of the session using my iPad, or pay at home or their office. Many now use their own iPhone during the session to make their payment. Once they use my bank details, websites usually keep me as a preferred payee and those details don’t need to be entered a second time.

The case for an iPhone or iPad enabled payment system is a no-brainer. One wonders, what with the Samsung vs Apple trial currently under way, if Apple ever thought its iDevices would be used this way. After all, even in its own Apple Stores it formerly used Windows CE-based portable card scanning devices.

These were replaced, perhaps with a big sigh of relief, with iPod touch units and an EasyPay system, as its called. At left, is an Apple Store employee in Perth, Western Australia using one when I visited in June 2012.

The units incorporate both a card reader and a bar scan reader and after taking your money, a receipt will be emailed to your nominated address. If you’ve purchased before, your details will quickly come up from the server and speed up the process.

More so, you can now use an EasyPay app on your own iPhone to make your purchase without even sighting an Apple Store employee!

Apple’s modded iPod Touch showing the bard card reader in action, purchasing an AppleTV remote

Apple EasyPay app at work in the Apple Store

Returning momentarily to Square, some have mooted it might make an excellent acquisition for Apple, as reported in the New York Times recently, above.

What makes the NYT report incorrect is its report that the Square service is “a unique electronic payment service through iPhones and iPads”.

There are several competitors, not all of whom use a card reader. One is ICCPay, which I also mention in my IT workshops, below (Shame on the NYT for not doing its homework).

The app needs to be used with a gateway linked to banks, and for some people these extra steps may prove to be a hurdle.

With the next iPhone not very far away, others have suggested Apple has its own plans for an iPhone based payment system, using Near Field Communications (NFC). With iOS6 coming with a coupon and ticket app called Passbook, it may also be the case that Apple will later allow iPhones to act as credit card terminals, perhaps utilising technologies from its Apple Store EasyPay setup.

While all this is in the not-to-distant future, Australian and US iDevice owners have another system just coming onto the market from PayPal, called PayPal Here. Below, the US website announcing its availability.

The Australian PayPal site shows a “Notify me when it’s ready” sign but some time back when it was first mooted coming to Australia, I applied to go on PayPal’s waiting list. This was back in April. In recent weeks, I was notified things were on the move. Last week , apparently in preparation, my PayPal account was suspended, pending receipt of documents pertaining to security questions, including if I was at all politically connected to anyone in the public eye. Seriously. I had to fax or email documents containing my photo ID and birthdate, as well as documents showing my name and current address, such as a utility bill. I used my US Passport business VISA for the former.

This was accepted eventually, and I was in business, even though the small triangular card reader was yet to arrive. The free app was available to be used however. Doing this has drawbacks, though.

1. Entering card data manually, with a purchaser’s finger signature and three digit CVV, attracts a higher % commission (about 3%), and

2. It takes 21 days to clear into your PayPal account, plus a few more after that to go into your nominated bank account.

Fortunately, my card reader arrived by courier yesterday, after being notified by PayPal Australia to expect it in 3-5 business days. It actually came just a day or two after that email, with its courier tracking details.

Here’s what the container box looks like:

The box includes an adhesive label you can place at your business entrance

Here’s the physical unite – it measures in imperial terms, 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 2″ approx

Here are a number of shots I took with my iPhone showing the boxing of the unit. This might not quite match the unboxing of a new Mac, but still….

It’s nicely done, complete with the adhesive label to place on your front door, and PayPal’s local support number. I haven’t tried to reach support yet, but would think that anyone trying to compare various payment systems ought to incorporate a comparison of support parameters, such as time spent waiting, quality of answers, followup, etc.

Using the unit requires you to download the free PayPal Here app from the App store. It is set for the iPhone, but will happily expand to 2x appearance on the iPad without much pixelation.

There can be a problem with iPhones with cases which make full insertion of the card reader difficult which I have already discovered with certain cables.

The card reader, unlike the Square unit, contains a triangular cover which partially rotates and “grabs” the iPhone preventing the unit from swivelling. Again, with a thick iPhone case, this feature just gets in the way. I have  swivelled the unit, and held it for a successful card swipe, but clearly if one is to use it frequently, it might require the temporary removal of the case.

The app., by the way, allows you to practise swiping without incurring fees, and as a way to test the functionality of the card reader.

Let’s now go look at the app itself, which has a number of interesting features.

The first is the “Open for Business” screen, above,  which connects you to PayPal to show balances, as as well the means to input items and information about your business.

There are a variety of settings, above, where you can list your inventory and give each item a sale price, and keep a running total of items being purchased. It night be useful for a bar or restaurant,  for instance, collecting table orders.

Each item can have its own amount and description, above, quite useful for those working garage sales or fleamarket transactions.

The app also includes a handy calculator, above,  to keep a running total going…

The app also includes the option, above, of putting in your business information, including either your mapped place of business and/or your correspondence address, as in a post box.

There is also the opportunity to track sales figures, both past and pending, above.

Items sold may include not just physical goods, but services too which can be itemised. There is also for goods, an area to display a picture of the item next to its description and cost. The picture can be imported from the Photo app, as you can see, below.

The option to take a picture on the fly could turn out to be very useful in some circumstances. There also exists the option, like Apple’s EasyPay system, of emailing a receipt to the purchaser. Handy to develop a marketing list of email addresses…

There are some questions that remain however.

Will the card reader work with all cards, and what of worn cards? How well will it work with the next iPhone, if rumours of its headphone jack heading south to the bottom of the unit prove to be true? And what is its future should Apple release its own credit card system in the near future?

The beauty of the PayPal system is the small size and thus portability of the reader, the data safety via encryption offered standard by PayPal, the well thought out version 1 of its app, and the public’s general awareness of the PayPal brand.

It’s also relatively easy to use and navigate through the various app screens, and the costs are very good when compared to what’s already out there. While it’s currently limited to VISA and Mastercard credit and debit cards, the lack of AMEX and Discover might be a concern for some. Mind you, I can’t recall the last time a patient tried to pay for a session with AMEX.

I’ll  update this blog entry once I start to make some “sales” with the unit, and report back on its actual usefulness.