Keynote 3 by the numbers: Part 2. Stuff that’s been fixed

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Part Two of our review is all about what’s been fixed, or what’s been added that should have been there all along. Those of us who use Keynote know it’s been a love/hate relationship. We love what it CAN do, and hate what it CAN’T. Well, thankfully Apple saw fit to fix a LOT of things that we’ve been asking for since version 1.

For starters lets look at the biggies. Ever been frustrated that you can’t make two bullet boxes on a slide? Complain no more. Not only can you use auto bullets in ANY text field (including table cells and objects), but you can make more than one column. This results in a VERY flexible text tool, and will make lots of Keynote users very happy. The second biggie is Group scaling. Now when you create a set of objects and group them together, you can scale the entire group as one. Before Keynote 3 you would have had to stuff the group into a table cell and scale that, or copy and paste it into Preview and paste it back into Keynote. Either way, you couldn’t ungroup the newly sized group once it had been scaled.

Now that the biggies have been fixed, what’s left? Plenty. Keynote 3 finally has a slide sorter view, called Light Table. The only problem we can see with that is that you can’t scale the thumbnails larger or smaller, but this is at least a great start. There are also more shapes in K3, including a Bezier tool (complette with a key combo to add points to an object you’ve already made). You can even switch a normal shape into edit mode and mess with it using the bezier functionality.

Exporting has been greatly enhanced. There’s finally an HTML export, and though it only creates full screen slides and navigation buttons, it saves a lot of work if all you need is a quick HTML version of your presentation. Flash export can now include sound (though we’re going to have to test it more to see if it’s better than K2). QuickTime export now allows you to choose Hyperlinks Only upon export. Ken tested this and sure enough, it fixes a bug that K2 had where the user could click on something other than a button in an interactive QT movie made with Keynote and it would advance to the next slide, which it was not supposed to do. The image export now lets you send your images directly into iPhoto, which used to require a 3rd party plug-in (or a manual import to iPhoto) previously. This features requires iPhoto 5 or later. PDF export finally has some options, including adding notes, slide numbers, borders, and build stages.

We’ll deal with a completely new export option (DVD export) in another review.

We’re not nearly done with the updates! There was a thread in the Apple Keynote forums a month or so back that dealt with adding other builds between bullet builds. Apple listened and added the ability to break apart a set of grouped builds. While you can’t then change the order of those builds, you CAN add other builds between them. An example would be building in bullets 1 and 2, then building in an image, and finally building in bullets 3 and 4.

Another odd but useful feature that we’ve seen pop up on the Apple forums was a time out feature when using Keynote in a kiosk type setting. In Keynote 3 you can now have the presentation start over after a given amount of idle time. Now your interactive kiosks can start over at the main menu after no one’s touched a key for 5 minutes. On top of that, you can require a password to exit the show, keeping people from breaking your kiosk.

Another new and much missed feature is the Image Adjustment window. It’s basically been grafted out of iPhoto, and uses the new dashboard system, making the window semi-transparent. It won’t work on objects, but it does work quite well on images, and even includes a reset button if you mess up your image.

While Apple showed off the 3d charts, they weren’t as high on the feature request list as most of the other items we’re going through in this review, so we’ll cover those in another review. What Apple didn’t mention is they added one new chart type, Scatter, which many have been asking for since Keynote 1. Error bars still aren’t there, but at least Apple’s working on the chart engine now. Also new are calculations within tables, though the selection is pretty slim, but again, it’s a good start.

We’ll finish up with the visual updates. In addition to adding new effects (and turning some off, which you can turn on again in the prefs), Apple gives you the ability to force Keynote to let go of the screen during a show. This allows you to trigger Expose, Dashboard, or even Front Row. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities (including break timers that are actually running in Dashboard). Ken tested Boinx Mouseposé and found that with this option turned on, it works properly in Keynote. It’s highliy likely that the apps that let you draw on the screen (which haven’t work with Keynote in the past) will now work fine.

We’ll wrap up this review with one last added feature. QuickTime movie controls. This was pretty high on the feature list (judging by the amount of requests on the Apple forums). Now while a movie is playing, if you move the mouse, a controller will appear below the movie. If you don’t want to display the controller, there are also key commands for rewind, fastfoward, pause and others. Sadly, even though you can click on a movie and the slide will not advance, QT VR movies still do nothing in Keynote 3. We’re hoping this is on their list for an update, and not something we have to wait for in Keynote 4.

Overall, we’re having a blast discovering new features and fixes in Keynote 3. This really is a full upgrade release and not a small update. Keynote’s interface is so elegant, that Apple managed to add plenty of features without changing the interface much, so at first glance you might only notice a few things, never realizing how much has changed until you start checking to see if some of those old annoyances sill exist. We’re sure we’ve even missed some features in this review as we’re still discovering more stuff.

Next up…brand new features.