I love using my iPad to present, when you haven’t time to get your laptop out and booted up, it’s fantastic!  I’d really love to be able to create content on my iPad too. Having the ability to create a quick presentation on the move would be super cool. There are a few options out there but none have delivered the full experience I need. Does Flowboard for iPad have what it takes?

Flowboard is a free app that lets you create presentations, right on your iPad, using simple touch gestures. You can add images, text and video to your presentations as well as adding links to external websites or other slides in the deck.

Once you’ve created your presentation or ‘Flowboard’ you can then share your deck through a link. Allowing you to share your content through a browser or the Flowboard app.

Create a flowboard

Let’s walk through creating a simple Flowboard to demonstrate the features of the software.

Once you’ve downloaded the app to your iPad, you’ll need to create a free account (either with your email address or through Facebook). With an account in place you’ll be presented with the following screen:

Create new Flowboard

Click the large plus button to start a new Flowboard and you’ll be prompted to select a template (or you can opt to start from scratch). There’s a good selection of templates to choose from, and will get you started really quickly on the route towards a good looking presentation:

Choose template

Once you’ve chosen a template, it’ll need to download to your iPad – it can then be accessed offline so you can continue creating wherever you are.

I’ve opted to start from scratch with a blank Flowboard – I want the deck to match the BrightCarbon brand and the in-build templates don’t cater for this. So after clicking Start from Scratch, I’m in the editing screen for my Flowboard presentation. I can name my Flowboard and tap on the first slide to start working on it. By tapping the slide it goes full screen and I can create objects (text boxes, images) by tapping two finger on the screen:

Add mediaYou’ll see that after creating/tapping an object, a frame appears around it and I can tap the plus in the centre of the frame to bring up the import media menu.

Media import menu

I just tap on the media type I’d like to add and then a further menu will pop up. I’ve opted to add an image so:

Select image source

There are lots of ways to add images; direct off  the iPad’s camera roll to searching Google for an image.

I then added a few more images and text to build up my first slide:

First slide

Happy with a slide, I tap done in the top right corner and create more slides by tapping add screen. On tapping, I can select the screen layout:

Choose layout

If you use one of the templates build in to the app, there are some pre-build slides you can use and then populate with your own images and text:

In-build template layout

Tapping on objects, brings up the frame around them. You can then tap and drag the frame to resize the object. To re-size images within frames you can use the typical pinch-zoom gesture to zoom and shrink images within the frames. You can even rotate images, by twisting the object with two pinched fingers, allowing you to get things exactly where you want them.

I’ve build up the rest of my deck now, and if I want a can easily re-order the slides, just tap the arrange button at the bottom of the screen, and I can then drag my slides into the order I prefer:

Reorder slides

I want to add a link to my last slide, allowing people to tap and watch a full video on the BrightCarbon website. To do this I tap the link icon (linked chain) on a selected object that will hold the link (in this case an image). With it tapped a new menu appears, allowing me to select the type of link:

Choose link type

With the  presentation complete, I need to add the deck to the Flowboard servers by publishing:

post to web

With the deck  in the cloud I can share it in a number of different ways:

Sharing options

My first attempt at a Flowboard is available to view here.

Thoughts

So what are my thoughts? Overall the app is really nice to use, and it produces good looking results – especially using the built in templates. The app is similar to Haiku Deck. However Flowboard offers a little bit more, allowing you to have an almost unlimited amount of layouts (as you can place content anywhere and any size on the slide). Flowboard feels more like a presentation creation tool, whereas Haiku Deck feels like a bit of a one trick pony.

Unfortunately for Flowboard I feel there are a few too many missing features, making it hard for me to recommend to business users. Let’s look at these points one at a time.

Animation

Major issue here! No animation is available, so you’ll only be able to create static slides. It’s a really shame, as the overall experience building slides is a good one, but without any animations, you can only do so much. Having the ability to build a slide up over time is crucial for keeping an audience engaged. Without the animation, the app leaves me feeling a little cold towards it.

Transitions

There’s only one slide transition, a swipe from right to left pulls on the next slide. As there’s no animation on the slides, it would have been nice to be able to change the transition to help build up information to help keep an audience engaged.

Creating shapes/objects

You can’t create elements within the app, you can only import pre-existing images or add text. If you want to create something in your brand or bespoke, you’ll have to spend time in another application creating elements to then load into Flowboard.  Also there’s no copy and paste for elements or slides, so if you need to re-create something you have to create it from scratch each time.

Conclusion

The tool is perfectly fine for creating simple photo albums or portfolios on the iPad, but if you want to do anything adventurous, you are going to need to spend time with another tool first, and you’ll have to comprise on animation. You’ll do better with PowerPoint on iPad as part of a 365 subscription.

It’s a shame because Flowboard does have a lot of promise, and creating slides on the iPad is simple and quick. Hopefully in the future we’ll see some new features (animations please) and the tool will become more practical for the business user.

At the moment, I’ve yet to find the iPad presentation creation tool of my dreams. I’ll keep looking, any suggestions, please add in the comments below.

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Written by

Karl Parry

Operations manager

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  1. Image of Brent Brookler Brent Brookler says:

    Thanks for the thorough review of Flowboard. It seems that you are very passionate about animation and we’d love to potentially add that in the future.

    What kind of animations do you think we should build? Your feedback is greatly appreciated and makes Flowboard a better product!

    • Image of Karl Parry Karl Parry says:

      Hi Brett, you are right – we love animation! Not to be flashy, but to help with communication. If we build diagrams up over time, it really helps to keep the audience engaged and aligned with the messages we are trying to communicate.

      In terms of what we’d like to see, initially just being able to have objects appear and disappear on a tap would be extremely useful. Moving on from that being able to have objects move (like PPT’s motion paths or Keynote’s magic move), and change shape/size/colour would be cool too.

      Thanks for getting in touch!

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No one was looking at their electronics; all eyes were on the podium. We raised the bar on what a great presentation is supposed to look like.

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