Update: A reliable tipster let us know something interesting today — almost none of Zenter, which Google acquired in June, was used in the product. Reportedly, Zenter’s technology was much better and its acquisition price (undisclosed to the public) was indeed fairly high, or at least higher than is perceived. Weird stuff — a Presently 2 coming in the future?
Google’s Presentation app, intended to mark off the completion of its web office suite, has been the talk of the town for months now. They’ve even bought two tiny online presentation companies over a couple months and publicly stated that it’s been in development. Yesterday, they finally released it — it’s more of a feature than a product, available at docs.google.com (under New > Presentation).
So, how does it look? Does it meet the hype? And what about the other gazillion web apps on the web that do the same thing? The answer can be summed up in three words: Presentation kicks ass.
First, let’s start with the interface. They’ve done a brilliant job of porting, replicating and bringing to the web what we’ve been seeing for the last ten years with Microsoft PowerPoint. The layout, the options, the feel, nothing should be new to you if you’ve used PowerPoint before. It’s fast — just like a normal desktop app — and there isn’t a single second wait time (as is usually the first turnoff with Ajax apps) when you do an action.
Feature-wise, the app is fairly advanced in every way — although, obviously, it’s no PowerPoint. You can do most of the basic actions like selecting themes, change most of the text formatting on the page, have unlimited slides (there’s a useful little button to duplicate, too!). One thing I love is that they track revisions — a great way to leverage the power of the web.
Google Presentation for Docs is a great example of a product (er… feature, rather) that does exactly what it should and misses out a lot of clunky bits that don’t need to be there. Sure, it’s no PowerPoint or FrontRow and certainly not a thing Steve Jobs would use for his keynotes, but I can see where it would fit into the office environment — that is, quickly viewing slides without having the need to download it (share by colleagues?) and editing for the smaller changes. A great job, Google.