Microsoft have finally released PowerPoint for iPad! With the iPad coming onto the scene in 2010, Microsoft have had almost 4 years to get their ubiquitous presentation platform ready for iOS. So what do I think? Here are my first impressions.

Getting started

So first things first, let’s get the PowerPoint app on my iPad. Amazingly, the first issue I found, was trying to find the app on the app store. On searching for ‘PowerPoint on iPad’ I was hit with numerous apps that offer a similar function, even a search for ‘Microsoft PowerPoint’ didn’t yield the correct app. This just goes to show how many other app developers have already beaten MS to the punch. However a search for ‘PowerPoint for iPad‘ will get you to the app on the app store.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you need to decide whether you will want to edit files on the iPad. The app will run PowerPoint slideshows for free, however if you wish to get access to the full version, which allows you to create and edit PowerPoint presentations  you’ll need an Office 365 subscription (which start from £8.40 per user/month – although there’s a reduced price for the student version). The cool thing about having an Office 365 subscription is that you can have all your various devices synced up and so working across platforms is very easy. You can actually have PowerPoint for iPad on 5 tablet devices as well as 5 other devices, so making it very accommodating. There’s also a free trial of Office 365 so you can at least see if it’s going to work for you.

So how does the app perform as a presentation viewer?

Running slide shows

First thing before we run a slide show, we need to open a presentation. You can open files direct from the iPad (from within the app, or from email) or from OneDrive or a SharePoint site. The app doesn’t, currently, support other cloud file sharing services.

Once you’ve opened your presentation you’ll see it in a familiar, but trimmed down, PowerPoint format.

powerpoint for ipad

You can tap the play button in the top right of the screen to start the slide show. Once the show is running, you swipe left to progress the slides, swipe right to go back and swipe down to access the end slide show button, along with the annotation tools, more on them later.

The presentations run nicely, all animations work as expected, smoothly and accurately. However, there’s a delay between slides and a egg timer can pop up during the delay, even when the presentation is running locally – which is a little distracting (and disappointing). Also embedded fonts aren’t displayed as expected.

powerpoint for ipad

The annotation tools available allow you to sketch over the slides, in pen or highlighter, in a selection of colours. Also, there’s a nice feature of being able to blank the screen and use this as a ‘whiteboard’ to sketch out ideas while presenting.

In order to present offline, you can duplicate the presentation and save it to your iPad locally. Tap the file button, select Duplicate and save the file to your iPad – giving it a meaningful name.

powerpoint for ipad

You can also connect you iPad up to a second screen and view the content there – however I wasn’t able to test out this feature as my cables are packed away for transit.

Overall the viewing experience is good, not great given the issues I’ve mentioned.

Creating and editing slide shows

When it comes to creating new presentations the app comes with a selection of templates to choose from, and you can specify the screen format (widescreen or standard).

powerpoint for ipad

You can then add shapes, image and text to create your slides – all of this is intuitive, using familiar controls and menu placement. A tap  to select objects and menus and a double tap to add/edit text.

You can apply shape and text styles easily with a couple of taps- accessing the Shape menu from the stripped down ribbon at the top of the screen, as well as re-ordering elements on the screen.

powerpoint for ipad

You can easily create good looking PowerPoint slides on the go, with a good selection of slide transition effects to choose from.

powerpoint for ipad

However you can’t add individual animation effects to objects. So although you can view slide animations within presentations created on the desktop version of PowerPoint, if you need to make changes to these animations on-the-go you are out of luck. Which brings me to the limitations of the app.


Very nicely Microsoft have pulled together a summary table to show the differences between PowerPoint for iPad, PowerPoint for Mac and PowerPoint for Windows. This list gives a good overview of what is missing from the iPad version.

Some of the more advanced features hidden away in PowerPoint for Windows (editing images, video, boolean shapes, etc) aren’t included. However, as the app is build to be mobile I’m not too surprised these advanced features are missing.

Speaking of images, although you can import images from your camera roll, you can’t directly access the camera and take a photo and add it directly into your presentation – not a huge problem, but it’s something people are pretty used to with other apps.

Another missing item is the Design tab (usually part of the ribbon at the top of the screen). If you wish to change the template of your presentation (or the screen format) on the go you’ll find this impossible and one to complete back at the office.

For me, the main missing feature is the ability to add and edit PowerPoint animations to your slides on the go. Here at BrightCarbon slides that animate are vital to compelling and engaging storytelling – and so although the app runs animations as expected, creating and editing animating slides on the go is still out of reach (for now).

Overall I’m pretty pleased to finally see PowerPoint ‘proper’ on iPad. It’s a shame that the app doesn’t support animation edits – but hopefully we’ll see this addition in the future.

The other major talking point, I feel, is the need for an Office 365 subscription to access the full version of the app. It’ll be an essential download for people already using Office 365, but for others if you are happy with your current set up – does it offer enough to warrant a move over to Office 365? I’m not so sure…

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Written by

Karl Parry

Operations manager

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Presentation sharing seems to be everywhere at the moment, from SlideShare to 9Slides, there’s always seems to be a new tool to help people get their message across. Now there’s, an online cloud based system that lets you run your presentation remotely. There are a fair amount of tools that allow you to do this, so what makes different?

  1. Image of Michael Nisbett Michael Nisbett says:

    I’m a SlideShark user. It provides viewing of notes, current and next slides together in presentation mode. I don’t see PowerPoint for iPad offering the same feature. Am I missing something??

  2. Image of Karl Parry Karl Parry says:

    Hi Michael, the free version of PowerPoint for iPad is very similar to the free version of SlideShark. I think the only real difference I can see is the need to upload your slides to SlideShark, whereas you can just open your slides direct in PowerPoint for iPad.

    The paid version of PowerPoint for iPad offers editing, which is the big difference I think.

    Thanks for your comments!

  3. Image of Kathy Kathy says:

    I am trying to insert and object (excel) in pptx in an ipad and I don’t see that as an option.

  4. Image of Karl Parry Karl Parry says:

    Hi Kathy, I believe you can only insert/create tables directly on the iPad. If you want to insert a chart or table from an existing excel file, you’ll need to do this on the full desktop versionof PowerPoint.

    You’ll be able to view the charts/tables on the iPad and complete minor edits, but if you want to create full excel charts you’ll need to retreat to the full desktop version of Office.

    Hope that helps!

  5. Image of Mike Mike says:

    I have done a power point presentation and I’ve got to open it and it’s gone? Is there any way to search for it as I now I saved it.
    Thank you

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