Presentation Helper Apps Review
Presenters who deliver presentations using their iPad tend to have looked carefully into the tools to use. But there are plenty of apps for the iPad and iPhone out there that don’t specifically deliver presentations, but can help presenters in interesting ways. Here is a quick look at two very different iPhone apps that don’t deliver presentations – but can help presenters in the process!
A deceptively simple app, this could prove a real gem for presenters who deliver time-constricted presentations. It is essentially a countdown timer, but with a difference. Different stages can be colour-coded into the countdown. For example, the clear digital display, which can be viewed portrait or landscape, is green to begin with. But once the countdown reaches a predetermined time, the digits switch to yellow, and then when the next stage is reached, a warning red. This gives the presenter a clear idea of what stage he is at in the presentation at a glance, and time to wrap up and summarise the presentation effectively.
If you go over time, the screen changes to red with black numbers, and continues to count upwards until stopped – useful, if you want to see how much you’ve run over by! You can also pause the timer by tapping the screen, or adjust the countdown up or down by minute intervals from within the timer screen.
Controls are simple and basic, using the iPhone’s scrolling selection tool. Users do have to use all three colours in the mentioned order, even if one or two colours are just visible for a second; but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. There is also the option for the device to vibrate and/or play a sound when the countdown progresses to a new stage. Probably not suited to most presentation settings, but it’s nice to have the option.
So what could improve it? It’s hard to say, really, because the whole idea is that it is a simple countdown timer. Something that would make it even more advanced would be the ability to add even more stages and colours to the countdown, so that presenters could structure each section of their presentation around e.g. a three-minute time slot. Some presenters might like the added rigidity, while it could pressurise others. But if the makers are looking to add functionality in the future, it might be something to think about.
The app is clean, simple, and useful. Of course, the iPad and iPhone have in-built countdown timers, but you can only countdown one stream at a time and it won’t display different stages. If you only use countdowns to ensure you finish on time, or just to remind you when to get the chicken out of the oven, this app probably isn’t for you. But if you want some help structuring your presentation when you’re delivering it, this app could prove really useful. There are other, more involved, apps that include this functionality among other options, but sometimes it’s best to keep it simple – which is exactly what this app does.
Mobile Mouse Pro
£1.49 – also a free ‘lite’ version available
An intriguing concept, the Mobile Mouse turns your device into just that – a mobile mouse. Connect the two up and use your iPhone or iPad to control your laptop – from some distance away, without needing a platform for a mouse. This goes beyond using your device as a presentation remote – functionality continues outside of PowerPoint.
Users do have to set the connection up, which involves downloading some free software from the Mobile Mouse website. You can download this before purchasing the app to check that it will connect to your phone. Once downloaded and connected, just open up the app, and voila! Your phone’s touchscreen functions like a touchpad.
You can even switch to accelerator view, and use the device as a laser pointer. It only works by displaying the mouse on your computer screen, but this can be used in a presentation to gesture to a specific point. The pointer isn’t perfect, but it’s surprisingly impressive using the iPhone’s tilt function. Perhaps even better (in my opinion) is the fact that selecting the controls in this option makes a fantastic old-school ‘click’ sound – think clicking through a traditional slide show using negatives and a projector. I loved it.
The remote has other uses outside of presentations too. A lot of comments on the app seem to be for people who use it to control their laptop when they’re streaming television – a great idea, and the media controls are superb. As the app operates on the wireless network, it goes quite a distance too, and so doesn’t require an unobstructed path from device to computer.
There are various advanced controls available too. The keyboard allows you to type, basic functions pop up for different applications (e.g. ‘Back’ or ‘Open new tab’ for web browsers), and the media controls allow for easy playing, skipping, etc. There is a selection of application controls that allow you to switch between your running applications and programmes and open new ones too, but I found that this wasn’t always reliable on my OS (Windows 7). Nonetheless, all very useful stuff. Really, I can’t list it all – the idea is that the app picks up on what you’re running and offers you shortcuts for the things it thinks you are most likely to do with them, and provides basic controls such as Ctrl, Escape and the function keys for everything else. And of course, anything you can’t do as a shortcut, you can do by using the mouse. This varied functionality could be particularly useful for presenters who regularly switch from PowerPoint to the web or other media during their presentations.
There are specific presenter controls too, that allow you to start your presentation and click through animations and transitions. This is a great alternative to a remote, but even more useful if you want to go interactive and select hyperlinks on your slides, or switch to a web browser.
The Pro Presenter mode, available for an additional £1.49, is where it gets even more exciting. This mode displays the slide you are presenting on your device, the presentation notes, and a presentation timer. Similar to Presentation Clock (mentioned above), you can set amber and red warning alerts to appear at specified times in your countdown. You can also go to your slide menu and navigate to specific slides, and use a slide pointer, which appears when you touch that area of the slide on your device screen.
All of these extra tools are interesting, but some can over-complicate the process somewhat. I’d say it’s worth the additional £1.49 to be able to use the timer alongside the remote device – but if you’re just after a timer, you’d be better off purchasing it as a separate app. Being able to jump to different slides is useful, but we wouldn’t recommend attempting to read your presentation notes as you present.
In all, Mobile Mouse Pro is a fantastic app that enables you to use your iPhone or iPad as a multi-functional presentation remote, and will also prove useful outside of presenting. It is a little disappointing to have to pay extra for the advanced presentation features, but even once you’ve made both purchases it still comes out as far less expensive than purchasing a separate presentation remote. A very useful app – and great fun, too.
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