Google Docs has just taken the next step toward world domination with its online apps package getting a Powerpoint-style package called Presentations.
Google Docs has just taken the next step toward world domination with the Docs getting upgraded to include a presentation package called Presentations.
According to the press release, 'users can create simple web-based presentations that others can update and view from their own computers, even at the same time. Presentations are a natural addition for Google Docs, as they are usually created with the intention of being shared.'
|A blank Presentation
As a recent convert to Google Docs for all my word processing needs I can attest to its accessibility and stability. In my brief play, Presentations seemed easily as stable as Docs, and responsive on my ADSL2+ connection.
Presentations offers templates (like PowerPoint) but as it is an early product there are only fifteen to choose from (that's probably enough to get your message across).
While the tools are rudimentary they do the job. If you're looking for a Powerpoint replacement, however, this is not it, as Presentations doesn't support master slides, slide transitions or more advanced drawing/graphics tools.
|Templates in Presentations
While files can be imported from PowerPoint, files you create with Presentations can only be exported as a ZIP file. Inside the ZIP file you'll find a web archive which can be viewed in any browser, but NOT back in PowerPoint.
It's unfortunate an 'export to Powerpoint' feature wasn't added (like in Docs and Spreadsheets) as this may be affect the popularity of Google's new product.
It's also worth noting that like the rest of Google Apps (except for Reader), you'll need to have an active Internet connection to get to your work. Bad if you like creating or editing your docs on a plane.
Google has created a technology called Gears that will allow its web-apps to run in a web browser even without an internet connection, but so far it has only implemented it into the relatively simple Google Reader service. Google "Office" doesn't yet support it.
In my basic testing PowerPoint files imported without trouble and generally rendered well. However, if your file is graphics heavy and you're using any non-standard fonts you'll probably want to give Presentations a miss, certainly in this iteration.
However, Presentations does have the same great collaboration tools as Google Docs and Spreadsheets and comes with a new feature that makes it possible for multiple users to view a set of slides while a moderator controls the presentation. Moderators simply send a URL to invite viewers. Once viewers check in they can also communicate via an IM style conversation that appears next to the presentation.
|A slideshow allows easy collaboration
So who is Presentations aimed at? For one, just having Presentations available means Google now has a decent web-based productivity suite. And while Presentations isn't very powerful yet I'm expecting to see it improve rapidly. If you need a basic presentation package however, and collaboration is your thing (I'm thinking students here) it's worth a try - but even at the price of free Google will have trouble convincing people to give up on Office, especially with their recent aggressive discounting.
What Google hasn't yet brought to the masses is an onilne database that is really easy to use. It has Google Base, but that's a separate platform for broad-scale storage of data. Google Apps competitor Zoho has a better offering in this space, with its Zoho Creator service.