There’s an astounding number of PowerPoint alternatives out there all claiming to be the solution to your most pressing presentation problems. But it can be tricky to see through the pretty branding and weigh up the functionality that lies beneath. Luckily for you, BrightCarbon is here to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the decent presentation programs from the rubbish PowerPoint knock-offs.
Working from home, on the train, in cafes, in hotel lobbies… Some of us have been doing it for years, but non-traditional working hours and locations are becoming more common as employers realise trapping people in the office from 9-5 doesn’t necessarily produce the best work. PowerPoint for Android is a version of PowerPoint you can use on your mobile device on the go to create, edit and present. Is it the answer to our changing working practices? Or is it a poor replacement for the full-fat version of PowerPoint we know and love?
You’ll need a device with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less, 1 GB RAM or more, running any of the supported versions of Android and with an ARM-based or Intel x86 processor.
It’s super easy to get started, simply download the app from Google Play then sign in with a mobile number, Microsoft account, or your Skype details. That’s it! You can then pull in any PowerPoint files on your OneDrive, your device or that have been shared with you. The changes you make to a file are synced across your account.
If you already have a Microsoft 365 subscription, sign in with your account and get access to ‘the full Microsoft Office experience’. If you don’t, you can upgrade for a month for free and test whether it’s worth shelling out for the extra functionality.
Creating and editing presentations with PowerPoint for Android
To create a presentation from scratch, tap the + icon in the top right-hand corner. Then choose where to save your new deck and pick a design style. Autosave is automatically turned on, so none of your changes will be lost.
To open an already existing PowerPoint, tap Open in the bottom right-hand corner and select the location of your file.
What immediately strikes me is how small everything is! If you’re not comfortable using a smartphone day-to-day – you keep hitting the wrong things or struggle to read small text – this might not be for you. To navigate around the workspace, use common touch gestures, such as using two fingers to zoom in and out of a slide.
So, what can you do with PowerPoint for Android?
You can insert a variety of elements including tables, shapes (all the basic shapes from the desktop version except Freeform), lines, and images (from device or camera). With a 365 subscription you also have access to Smart Art graphics. Once you’ve inserted elements, you can format them in similar ways to the desktop version. Images can be cropped, and frames, shadow, reflection, and alt text added. You can change the size, colour, transparency etc. of shapes and add and edit text.
When you’re placing items on your slide, keep in mind that there are no alignment tools, you have to rely on smart guides to keep things neat. PowerPoint for Android has the usual Arrange tools (send to back, bring forward etc.), so you can arrange your slide in layers. You can also easily copy formatting from one object to another, this is super helpful for standardising decks quickly.
There are a few tools missing, such as a change picture option, and the Morph transition and PowerPoint Designer are not available with the free version of the app but on the whole, the app has everything you need.
My top tip for using PowerPoint for Android is, if you think you can’t do something, try tapping the light bulb icon and typing the action e.g. add audio.
This is where I found animations, font size, insert a link and more. It seems that a bunch of functionality is hidden here, accessible if you need it, but not wasting precious screen space.
The app crashed for me a couple of times, but thanks to autosave my edits were safe and I could easily open the app back up and carry on, without disrupting my work flow too much.
PowerPoint for Android seems geared to reviewing on-the-go. When you tap an element, you get cut/copy/paste options, then the very next action is New Comment. It’s very easy to add comments and with a 365 subscription you can tag people in your comments and read and respond to comments from your email. I can see this would be a great app for collaborative working, allowing you to review decks and make small edits on the go.
Presenting with PowerPoint for Android
If you have PowerPoint for Android installed, you can present both on and from your device.
To present on your device, simply tap the start slide show icon then swipe left to advance the slide and to trigger animations. Note: This icon starts the slide show from the slide you are on.
in Slide Show mode there are annotation tools and the option to blank out the screen. Presenting wasn’t super intuitive; I kept wanting to tap, rather than swipe, when I knew there was an animation coming.
You can also present from your mobile device to a projector, using a HDMI cable, or to a screen that supports Miracast, Chromecast or AirPlay. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you’ll be able to view your speaker notes on your phone as you present. You can also use your phone as a laser pointer by resting your thumb on the notes section and moving the phone up/down, left/right to move the on-screen laser.
To add speaker notes, tap the menu in the top right-hand corner and select Notes.
PowerPoint for Android: Final thoughts
Obviously creating presentations with your fingers on a 5-inch screen is a bit fiddly and it’s difficult and time consuming to get elements placed accurately. It’s also more labour intensive to pull in content from other sources, unlike being on a desktop, you can’t have several tabs open in the same way. For these reasons I would advise against using the PowerPoint app to create presentations from scratch. You also miss out on great add-ins, such as BrightSlide, that help to speed up the design process. However, if you’re simply adding text into a pre-made template, making last minute edits on the fly or responding to colleagues’ comments this app could be really handy.
Microsoft Office all-in-one-app
PowerPoint for Android is available to download now. However, Microsoft have another mobile-centric offering on the horizon – the all-in-one Office app where users can access Word, Excel and PowerPoint in one place. The app was announced in November 2019 and promises extra functionality compared to the individual Office apps. For example, users can take a picture of a document and automatically turn it into a Word file. There will be new actions including creating a PDF, signing a PDF using your finger, and easily transferring files between different devices.
This app should significantly reduce the amount of space used on your phone compared to having the separate apps installed. To see screenshots, walkthroughs and to sign up for the public preview click here.
Check out more of our blog posts on the latest presentation technology or let us know what you think of PowerPoint for Android in the comments below.Leave a comment
Olivia Kippax Jones
Communication consultantView Olivia Kippax Jones's profile
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