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.

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

  1. Lee, I hope you are correct about a new version of Keynote with new features. I think it is great that PC users will be able to use iWork in their browsers. I do think you are right about improvements in Keynote for desktop being delayed for iOS.

  2. Hi Les,

    Thanks for those observations.

    I do hope Apple is going to improve their transitions and build. For instance:
    -add an ease in/out option to transitions like Magic Move for more elegant movements
    -ability to really edit/change shape of objects: i.e. Make rectangle into trapezium and use MM to flow from one object type to another one. Application could be to have a screenshot wait in perspective mode on the side of your slide Andrade it zoom in to full screen mode from there (great for showing software without having to live demo).
    -use MM to also increase size of text (without having to use the workaround via Preview and PDF) and at the same time have it move across a slide.

    Basically my suggestions are to have a basic implementation of Motion as a function of Keynote.


    • Ron, I think many have suggested an amalgamation of the feature set of Motion with Keynote, to take it to a whole other level.

      I’ve just seen a Keynote file from an Apple ADE, Bill Rankin, and he certainly used the current Keynote to show movement and shape changes in ways I see few Keynote users employ, much less Powerpointers.

      But when I took a close look at the Inspector builds to reverse engineer what he had done, I was confronted with a very long list of Group items, coming, going and scaling. Not even names Group 1, Group 2, etc. to differentiate what group was doing what and when. A very serious fault which tells me the Keynote engineering team of its day was unprepared for how advanced end users would employ Keynote., ie., they expected simple visuals and text, much like we see at Apple events.

      Now that people like Larry Lessig and I have demoed what we do to the Keynote team, and Apple’s own internal staff like Bill have to deal with Keynote’s shortcomings, here’s hoping that lots has been learnt these past four years, ready to incorporate into Keynote 14, Keynote Pro or whatever the next version may be called. Your seeking a more feature-laden Magic Move transition is well taken: just look at how at the iPhone event Apple introduced each new iPhone with fluid motion forming a solid whole – very tantalising.


  3. I give a dozen or so Keynote presentations a year on the topics of electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy. I don’t use most of the effects as I feel they are distracting rather than helpful in this area. I do use a lot of dissolves and moves. It is very helpful to be able to show how something changes while discussing it.

    I would like to see three large improvements in Keynote.

    Layering. As you mention, it gets to be very difficult to deal with more than a few objects in a slide, especially when one is behind another. To edit the slide it is sometimes easier to start over. I want to isolate a layer, select an object, un group it, make changes to color or shape or opacity, regroup the objects and not lose the effects that were applied.

    A timeline similar to the one in GarageBand. This would make it so much simpler and quicker to implement motions and apply voice overs.

    A kind of light table for indivual slides or stacks of slides I could quickly access when building a presentation. This would be a nice way to access short runs of slides that I frequently use such as company introduction or basic technology concepts.

    I suggest these at from time to time. Here’s hoping we see a nice update to Keynote in October.

    • I think all of your desires for feature upgrades have been mentioned here or in other Keynote-oriented blogs over the last several years. Clearly, the “messiness” of the group/layering effect needs to be handled better, as we have seen in the current version of Powerpoint, and even in iOS Keynote in terms of moving objects forward or backward. A timeline is essential; you may have tried to play with Quicktime movie ins and outs, but it is very hard to be precise, so I can only hope we see some Qt editing feature within Keynote in the next update.

      I expect we’ll know something more in a month’s time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s