Keynote for iOS review: Still the best presentation app on iOS

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.2
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Installation and Setup: 8.0
  • Interface: 9.0
  • Features and Support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Keynote has easy-to-use tools for creating great-looking presentations on the go with your iOS device, and they sync up so you can work on them anywhere.

The Bad Working with presentations feels crowded on the iPhone's smaller screen.

The Bottom Line With new Magic Move transitions, twice as many themes, and collaboration capabilities, Keynote is a must have for making presentations on your iOS device.

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Keynote is Apple's presentation software that lets you choose a template, create and edit slides, add animations and transitions, and has numerous charts, tables, and graphs to get your message across. Keynote is one of three apps from Apple's productivity suite that also include Pages and Numbers.

Like the other new iWork apps that were released in October, 2013, Keynote was built from the ground up for both iOS and Mac, with the iOS version seeing improvements, while the Mac version has lost some features to give both a level playing field. Due to a backlash of user complaints about the Mac versions Apple has since announced in its support pages which features are coming to both versions over the course of the next six months.

Before I start, know that I did most of my testing on the iPad. You can get Keynote for your iPhone (just like the rest of the iWork apps), but the smaller screen makes it much harder to create and edit presentations. You don't lose functionality when moving from the iPad to the iPhone, and it will come in handy in a pinch, but using it on the iPad is a much better experience.

New look for iOS 7
Like many of Apple's apps, Keynote was redesigned with iOS 7 in mind. Apple replaced the skeuomorphic real-world look with flat buttons and a dark gray theme. You can navigate from slide to slide on the left side of the screen, with the current slide in the main viewing area. On top are buttons for editing objects in your slides, adding new objects such as photos, graphs, or shapes, along with other tools and sharing options. In the bottom right, a plus-sign button lets you add new slides to your presentation.

Creating a presentation
To get started, you can choose from 30 themes that give your presentation different looks for everything from information-heavy bulleted lists to photo- or graphics-focused shows. Once you choose a look you like, each theme comes with several premade slides that fit with the overall aesthetic while letting you double tap on placeholders to add your own images and text. The new Keynote comes with almost twice as many themes than you had in the previous iOS version, and while you lose some animations and transitions you had before, the new version adds new ones that look great.

Keynote (iOS)
When you create a new slide, you'll have tons of layout choices that are included with the chosen theme. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Like any good presentation software, Keynote gives you the ability to create eye-catching motion with objects in your slides through animations and transitions. You can touch an object, such as a block of text or an image, then select the Animate button from the pop-up menu. A new set of buttons then pops up where you can select build-in (the animation that occurs when you first touch the screen) or build-out (another animation when you touch again) animations. There are 24 animations to choose from and all produce a great looking effect.

When you want to transition between slides, you can touch a slide in the left navigation area and then select Transition from the resulting pop-up menu. There are 30 transitions to choose from including a few new ones in the latest version of Keynote. But there's another new transition option called Magic Move that's a neat addition over the old version.

Magic Move uses an object or image in one slide, then does a zoom animation to the position of the same object or image on the next slide. So if you have a slide with an image of a toy car at the top of slide A, and the same toy car shows up in a collection of other toys at the bottom of slide B, you can use the Magic Move to keep the audience focused on that toy car as it transitions to slide B. It's hard to explain, but it's a neat effect to add to your presentations.

Keynote (iOS)
Tap on an image in your slide, then tap the paintbrush button to change styles, such as adding frames or drop shadows. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Other useful features
The iOS version of Keynote lost a couple of features in the overhaul to get feature parity across all devices, but it also received some new ones.

New interactive charts let you start by creating a regular chart on a slide and then lets you include how the data changes over time. During your presentation, you can show the gradual changes in your data by using a slider. You also now have the ability to add a background track to your presentation from your song library -- a feature people have wanted for a long time. The app also lets you make all or a part of an image transparent using a tool called Instant Alpha, a feature borrowed from the older Mac version, that gives your slides an even more professional look. The new features are welcome additions, giving you more things you can do to impress your audience at the big meeting.

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Where to Buy

Keynote (iOS)

Part Number: id409183694

$19.99

Quick Specifications See All

  • Category Office and productivity
  • Compatibility iOS
About The Author

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.