Tag Archives: iWork

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.

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With the passing of Steve Jobs, its primary beta tester, has Apple now orphaned its presentation software, Keynote, which hasn’t received a major update for almost three years. Will dissatisfied users abandon it for Powerpoint (which Jobs despised)?

I’ve just finished reading on my iPad and iPhone Walter Isaacson’s superb biography of Steve Jobs. I knew much of the story he told from the various unauthorised biographies as well as individual blogs written about him, as well as movies such as “Triumph of the Nerds” and “Pirates of Silicon Valley”.

I saw Steve a few times up close when I visited the Apple campus in the last few years, but never had a chance to speak with him. I can certainly fantasise that he many have read some of my blog articles about Apple products such as the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and of course his presentation software of choice, Keynote.

In more recent years, he spoke of hoping to keep Apple’s DNA alive after he was gone by dint of the new Apple building he has commissioned to be built on some previous Hewlett-Packard land. Perhaps he had read of the “Apple DNA” concept on my blog article in December, 2004, a screenshot of which is below. It is on this website that I first suggested Apple ought to make a tablet (I nicknamed it the iScribe) which would be brilliant for Keynote users to remote use:

(If you can find a description of Apple’s DNA earlier than 2004, please let me know!)

I’m sure many readers have fantasised what they would have said to Steve Jobs if they happened to meet him, and perhaps some of you have! My other fantasy includes him walking into my first Presentation Magic  presentation at Macworld 2008, saying  “This sucks!”, then taking over the show to share his presentation ideas. How I and attendees would have had special memories to take with us had that happened!

But before you think it merely fantasy, others in the health professions have indeed been on the receiving end of Jobs’ “advice” with regard to their presentations, especially when they used Powerpoint.

Walter Isaacson’s Jobs’ biography mentions his distaste for Powerpoint, and slideshow-based presentations in general (save for his own keynote presentations) on six occasions. You won’t find Powerpoint or Keynote listed in the book’s index, but in the iBooks’ version I have, you can of course do a global search for keywords. So, here you have them:

Global search of Powerpoint references in "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

We’ll work our way through some of them because it’s quite illuminating to hear what someone who presentation bloggers and authors rate as one of the world’s best presenters (and the world’s best CEO presenter) has to say about Powerpoint, and presentations in general.

Let’s start with the final reference where Jobs is very ill, and his wife Laurene and others have organised various medical and genetics research staff to investigate where next in his treatment:

One could just imagine Jobs focussing on the expectedly lousy Powerpoint slides of medical researchers while they’re focussing on his genome sequence for which he’s paid $100,000!

But earlier on the book, when Jobs has returned to Apple and is setting about constructing his “A” team to resurrect Apple, we see how he eschews presentations with slideware when he believes it takes from, rather than adds to, the creative process:

“People who know what they’re talking about don’t need Powerpoint”

This might sound strange coming from someone who was the original beta tester for Apple’s Keynote, and who continued to employ it to show Apple’s wares right up to the release of the iPad 2.

But as I have written elsewhere, a Jobs’ keynote does not engage the audience in a dialogue. The audience is engaged with the story he tells of Apple’s products and services, where he employs Keynote like a storyboard, outlining a roadmap. It’s not used as a lecture technology, as an adult training tool, or as a brainstorming of ideas technology. Jobs never hid behind his slides as so many people do, preferring their slides to sell the story. No, Steve emulated for us how the slides were adjuncts to our spoken stories, never getting in the way of what the presenter was saying or doing, but ready to illustrate ideas when words were not enough.

With Steve’s passing who at Apple can carry the torch for Keynote? The obvious answer is Phil Schiller who, after Steve, is most associated with demonstrating iWork in action at Apple keynotes, and showing us updates.

But is Phil invested sufficiently in Keynote to see it continue to be updated with features for a contemporary presentation population, both givers and receivers who have become steadily sophisticated in their expectations.

I say that with some sense of caution however. I was sent a link to YouTube video of several start-ups competing for venture capital, each giving a recent 3 minute presentation.

You can watch it below. But let me remind you that since the release of Lion 10.7 and a point update for Keynote, many in various discussion groups have complained of considerable unhappiness regarding the auto-update feature, which for some means minutes of spinning beach balls for even the slightest of changes to a slide. It has meant on Apple discussion support boards that some have either reverted to Snow Leopard or an earlier edition of Keynote so as to bypass the auto-save feature, or have returned (shudder) to Powerpoint.

So when you watch the video below, bear in mind two things:

1. There is still plenty of room for presentation skills training to judge by the young group of entrepreneurs missing the central point of their presentations, viz.: their failure to appreciate the most important obstacle to overcome as soon as possible is the audience’s fundamental cognition: “Why should I give a $%# about your product?”

2. Feel some empathy for the first presenter, who uses the organiser’s Powerpoint (Mac-based) when it falls over (at 2min56sec):

Notice too what happens when you don’t provide speakers with a vanity monitor, which I have been discussing lately. You’ll see how often the presenters need to look over their shoulder to see what’s happening and lose contact with their audience. Not good when you’ve only got three minutes to persuade people.

You’ll also see many presentation errors with the slides (perhaps I’ll use this as an exercise at my Macworld presentation), which shows I hope that even young, hip entrepreneurs whose presentations really count can so easily be sucked into the Powerpoint vortex of lousy knowledge transfer.

So the mission Steve started in 2003 with Keynote 1.0 is way from over, I believe. Yet the last significant update to Keynote was in 2009 when it moved to version 5, as part of iWork 09, giving us MagicMove (which has become a default Apple transition for their keynotes), some new chart animations, and some remote apps for iDevices.

In two months, it will be three years while its users have patiently waited for Keynote’s multitude of shortcomings to be dealt with in the form of a brand new version, making a significant form and function leap as did Final Cut Pro X.

Yet without Steve there to champion it, as he did in the final period of his life, who within Apple will take it to Tim Cook, hardly renowned so far as a presenter par excellence, and the senior executive team, and offer up an improvement?

Apple keynotes themselves have settled into a very predictable pattern, with incredibly overused build styles, such as the “anvil” whenever amazing financial figures are displayed. In the last few keynotes we have not seen any hints of new effects or styles, although  of course there could be events happening outside of visual awareness, such as the much sought after timeline for more precise animation and build timings.

What’s worse, Apple’s own internal briefings using Keynote which I get to see when my MUG has an official presentation from an Apple rep., are merely Powerpoint converted to Keynote, and I recall conversations with my iWork contact who lamented the generally low level of presentation skills using Keynote performed within Apple’s various divisions. It’s probably why people like me and Larry Lessig were invited to present to the Keynote team, not just to discuss what we wanted in future Keynotes, but for the team to witness how to Present Different.

Prior to the current version 5, the longest time in Keynote’s history  when its users had to patiently wait for a new version was twenty four months, between versions 1 (released January 2003) and 2 (released January 2005).

There were some minor point updates in that time, more for stability than features. Version 2 was a huge improvement, almost like going from OS X 10.1 to its first really useable, put away System 9, version 10.2, Jaguar.

Three years is a very long time, although if one lives in the Windows Powerpoint world, where in the last decade you go from PPT 2003 to 2007 to 2011, it’s not so remarkable. And in the face of continuing updates of significance to the iPad version of Keynote, perhaps not all hope is lost.

But unless we see something new soon, and the current Lion auto-save issue is resolved, I fear issues of abandonment will continue in the face of Apple’s seeming orphaning of what appeared to be one of Steve Job’s favourite applications he loved using himself; one where we watched its use in amazement not just of the products he showed as emblems of Apple’s DNA, at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, but of the “how” he showed them, the likes if which in a CEO we won’t see for a long time.

Vale Steve.

Vale Keynote?

When will the next iWork be released? Very soon if Apple follow its own history… And some Keynote 6 predictions.

As we enter the last year of the first decade of the current millenium (that’d be 2010) it occurs to me this will be the first year since Steve Jobs returned to Apple that neither he or the next in line at Apple will be presenting any new products at Macworld early in the new year.

About this time each year, mid-December, various pundits would wax lyrical about future Apple product releases “expected” to be released at the Jobs’ Keynote in early January. In 2006, the iPhone was the hot topic although none of the soothsayers predicted its form factor nor its OS. (I guessed it would be something like OS X in operation but didn’t come straight out and say it would be a flavour of OS X).

The hot prediction, hardware wise, for 2010 is an Apple tablet. Let’s put that to one side, however.

Apple’s software releases for 2010

I’m more interested in Apple’s software pipeline for 2010, especially as I prepare for my 2010 Macworld Powertools workshop (using Apple’s Keynote presentation software). I still have strong memories of predicting Keynote 5’s arrival, as part of iWork ’09), even though I’d prepared my 2009 workshop based on iWork ’08 and Keynote 4. Lucky for me, I accessed it after Macworld’s Schiller keynote, and partially reworked my slides the night before.

With this in mind, let’s turn to predictions for the next version of iWork, and iLife for that matter.

A little history first

But first, think about the nomenclature systems of the major OS suppliers in use by the majority of consumers. This puts Linux and Unix to one side, and leaves us with Mac OS and Windows variants.

Windows has now returned to numerical naming systems for Windows 7, with a visual descriptive term – Vista – now a sullied brand best forgotten. The last one of these was Windows 3.1 two decades ago. In between, we’ve had Windows 95 (which began Microsoft’s assault on Apple’s GUI lead), followed by Windows 98, Windows Me (another non-numerical nomenclature best forgotten like Vista), then Windows 2000. Lettering then followed in the guise of NT and Xp.

When the Mac OS reached version 10, Arabic numerals were dropped in favour of Roman (Mac OS X), and as each variation took place (10.0 through to 10.6) it was named after a big cat. Jobs himself in all his Keynotes much preferred to refer to the Mac OS by these more colloquial expressions, mentioning numbers in passing.

The first bundling of Apple’s much-lauded consumer applications such as iMovie, iTunes and iPhoto occurred at Macworld 2003, a keynote which had received such little advanced expectations from the rumour mills that at its conclusion when he summed up all he had offered in a two hour spectacular (including not one but two new Powerbooks when certain pundits the week before had said on air, “read my lips… they’ll be no new Powerbook’s at next week’s Macworld), Jobs told the audience not to believe all they read on rumour sites.

All initial iLife apps. had been out in the wild in their own incarnation, but in 2003, with each undergoing an update, iLife (undated) brought them all together for download (all except iDVD), free bundling with a new Mac purchase, or purchase as optical media for USD49, to operate with OS X 10.1.

In later, years, other popular apps were added including iWeb and Garageband. Most were iterative improvements, although iMovie  7, which followed iMovie HD6, proved particularly unpopular, a situation cleared up in iMovie 8, released in January 2009.

As usual, Wikipedia provides a comprehensive history of iLife, a table reproduced below which sets out its lineage.

Unlike Microsoft, which persists in allowing its dated Office Suite to linger on for years (the current version is 2007, with many still using 2003, and awkward version compatibility), it appears it’s anathema to the Apple team to be so out of date with respect to how it names its suites such as iLife and iWork. Each in previous years since their inception has been “rebooted” at Macworld just a few days or weeks into the year that carries its name, with the exception of iLife 08 released in the fall of 2007, well ahead of 2008. You can say that this was Apple flaunting its uptodateness in Microsoft’s face, or that it was so late with iLife 07 it skipped it completely and went to 08 instead.

While none had predicted iLife, iWork had received much speculation once a prior arrangement between Apple and Microsoft has reached its use-by date. This was the much misinterpreted “saving” of an Apple on life support by Microsoft by an injection of $150m purchase of Apple non-voting stock, an agreement to continue Office for Mac for the next 5 years after Jobs return to Apple, and the use of Internet Explorer for the Mac, announced at August Macworld 1997. (For a more radical interpretation of these events, read Roughly Drafts’ entry here.)

Keynote 1.0 itself was released at the same Macworld which saw iLife bundled for the first time (2003) and one might ask why it was left as a stand alone app, and not bundled with iLife given its creative DNA. (It was given away to all who attended Jobs’ keynote).

One could guess that with the MS Office agreement concluding, Apple was already plotting to release its own Office suite, and bundling Keynote with iLife would contaminate its brand as a professional, not consumer, app.

Unlike iLife which was not rumoured to be released in the lead up to 2003’s Macworld, news that Apple might take on the might of Office was always a big deal, given Office’s place in the business firmament as the default suite for enterprise on both platforms. Even now, despite frequent requests to have friends send me text embedded in an email, or even as a text document, they insist on sending Word documents. I usually view them first in Quick Look, and if I need to copy any text, download and open them in TextEdit.

It would be prudent to point out at this point for younger readers (!) who may have grown up with Microsoft Office as the “only” productivity suite,  that one of the first suites for PCs (to use the term generically) had been introduced for the Apple II in 1984, as Appleworks. It continued on into the Macintosh, released in the same year but earlier, and was eventually named Clarisworks. Its interesting history is available at Wikipedia here.

Rumours that Apple would produce a productivity suite for OS X apart from Appleworks and its derivatives, reached their peak in very late 2004, when the now defunct Think Secret rumour site went public with “news” of a slew of new products for Macworld 2005, including the update of Keynote to version 2, some non-specific add-ons to Keynote, a hardware appliance called Asteroid (which eventually saw Think Secret put out of business by Apple), and a mysterious software called Sugar.

On New Year’s Eve 2004, just a few days before Macworld 2005, MacRumours reported Sugar to in fact be iWork, containing Keynote 2 and a word processing document called Pages. Rumours that it was to be called iWork got a boost when software developer IGG Software (whose products iBank and iBiz I personally use and enjoy) stopped using the name iWork for their billing suite, and renamed it iBiz.

When iWork was revealed, it was a rather anaemic combo of Keynote 2 and Pages 1.0. Nonetheless, it certainly raised eyebrows that Apple was not afraid to take on the might of Office. Keynote was already winning hearts, minds and eyes of those tired of the usual Powerpoint backgrounds and amateurish animations and transitions, while Pages’ dual page layout/word processing roles seem to hold promise.

But unlike the initial release of iLife in 2003 which received no year appendix, the first iWork was named iWork 05, and each year has been updated up to iWork 09 at Macworld in January, except for 2007. In this year, just as for iLife, iWork 07 was skipped, and iWork 08 released in August, four months ahead of January 2008.

So, in thinking about the next update to iWork, if history is a good predictor of Apple’s behaviour, we will see an update early in the new year, or in August at a special Apple event.

But 2010 will be a little different of course. There is no official Apple presence at Macworld for the first time in decades, and no Steve Jobs or Phil Schiller keynote scheduled for the official release of new Apple products.

Would Apple simply release a major software product simultaneously while Macworld is proceeding and presumably garnering considerable attention? Would it release it, and perhaps new hardware, during CES in January to once more steal some media spotlight from Microsoft’s showings, just as it did when the iPhone was released in 2007? Think Tablet, in this case, as the ideal attention-grabber (but it’s unlikely).

What’s clear to me is that Apple will not allow too much time to pass with iWork 09 or iLife 09 on its Apple store shelves once 2010 rolls around. Too much like Microsoft to let products linger in some outdated fashion.

And if either of these two products make it to the next version, will it be iWork 10 or iWork X? And as a commenter has reported, will it be restricted to Snow Leopard?

In iWork 09, Keynote 5 is the most mature of the products, and certainly the one I’m most familiar with. Pages I use, but less frequently and not exclusively, spending time also in TextEdit, Mellel, and Word (when I have to.) I almost never use Powerpoint except to open others’ Powerpoint stacks to see them in their original format, despite being able to open them in Keynote. I use Numbers once a year to update my professional development workshop schedule.

I’ve also played with Powerpoint 2010 for Windows, and it has come a long way since Powerpoint 2003 or 2007. Its attempts to emulate Keynote are palpable, and it seems its developers are very aware of the criticisms heaped upon it, some unnecessary, and others quite appropriate.

Somewhere between now and June 2010 when Powerpoint 2010 is released officially, Apple will update Keynote, I’m sure. The question I have is whether they’ll wait until they feel Keynote is ready (there is no known beta program outside of Apple), or leave it late until Powerpoint is virtually locked down and then release a stunning leapfrog, making Powerpoint’s emulation efforts look pitiful. Expect very short notice from Apple, rather than a long, “lock-you-in, can’t go back” strategic effort, as per Microsoft.

A few Keynote 6 (iWork 10) predictions

I have a strong feeling that whenever Apple chooses to release a Keynote update, it will be stunning. Already in Keynote 5 we saw such effects as Magic Move which will be further refined in Keynote 6. I predict more advanced alpha masking approaching that which can now only be performed in third party software such as Photoshop or Vertus Fluidmask; more subtle but powerful 3D effects such as we can see in Picturesque; more impressive manipulation of Quicktime movies including angular display distortions to accentuate 3D possibilities, and of course some transitions added and some retired (such as the turntable effect).

The big hope will be a streamlined and easy to use timeline which is desperately needed to bring Keynote up a notch. Several iLife consumer-level applications have timeline devices built in, and it’s very odd that its professional software in Keynote doesn’t. Its inclusion, which would mean a radical restructuring of the Inspector, whilst attempting to maintain some semblance of simplicity and UI ease of use, will be a sore test of Apple’s UI creativity and engineering mix.

When it does so, my prediction is that it will make Powerpoint’s efforts to control elements on a timeline look very weak indeed. You just know that Apple wants a timeline in Keynote, but it has waited this long to do it right.

I am hoping that the Keynote team will also make users’ lives easier with new and creative ways to highlight events on the screen thus doing away from laserpointers in the Mac community! Again, if they do include new “call outs”, expect them to have strong 3D elements and animations similar to what you see on television current affairs programs.

I’m not particularly enthusiastic about new themes or transitions, as we’re well served by both Apple and third parties currently, but I do expect certain build styles to be dropped, and some seriously eye-popping ones to be added, especially word and letter effects. I am hoping that the motion and scaling builds will be extended and include freehand drawing of object movement, rather than the more cumbersome method in Keynote 5.

There are lots of things to be hoped for in the next update, some of which are truly necessary, and others less needed. I do expect one or two delightful surprises however, if past updates are anything to go by…

The big question is, when? I have hinted that it will be sooner rather than later given Apple’s naming history, but it may be that delaying is a good option while Powerpoint moves into final form. My own feeling is that while Apple observes Powerpoint – if only to keep its export to Powerpoint feature current and accurate – it marches to its own beat, knowing the Microsoft development team will have an awfully tough task playing catch up not just to new Keynote features, but its sheer elegance and panache.

After all, Bill Gates may have left the building on a full-time basis, but his lack of taste still lingers and permeates the design culture at Microsoft.

Should an Apple tablet be released and coincide with Keynote 6 features (as I have written elsewhere on this blog) Apple will move the field of presenting up several notches.

I can hardly wait.