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Those who live and breathe presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote have little trouble working up great-looking slide decks with minimal effort. Meanwhile, the rest of us struggle to find the right backgrounds, graphics, and fonts for effectively conveying our message – a task now made effortless with Haiku Deck. Available free for iPad, Haiku Deck uses slick themes to help users create stunning presentations in as little time as possible.
This is the kind of app the iPad was created for: Fast, effective and virtually effortless, even for people who have never made a presentation before. Pick a theme, start typing, and Haiku Deck goes to work scanning for high-quality, Creative Commons-licensed digital photos that might make a great backdrop. Text can be laid out in a wide variety of preset layouts, with the most recent version adding numbered and bulleted lists. If you have custom backdrop images ready to go, Haiku Deck can import them from the iPad photo library or a range of cloud-based services, including Dropbox, Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, or Picasa. Image filters can be applied for additional customization, and version 2.0 now allows backdrop photos to be cropped or repositioned as well.
Great presentations are about more than text and photos, so Haiku Deck painlessly creates pie charts and bar and statistic graphs from most any kind of data you can throw at it. When finished, decks can be shared with a free haikudeck.com account for web viewing, passed to social networks, exported to PowerPoint, Keynote, and PDF, or even duplicated as the starting point for a new presentation. The user interface is fluid and easy to understand, and the app features a built-in gallery of other users’ work that you can view for inspiration.
When you’re ready for some new looks, the developer offers a “Bento Box” pack with 16 additional themes as a $14.99 in-app purchase; individual themes are also available for $1.99 each. We test drove a handful of the more interesting-looking themes, including Strangelove and Novella, which can be applied to a current deck with just a tap. From the free selections, Zissou is a particular favorite (which echoes the style frequently used by Royal Tenenbaums director Wes Anderson), but there’s something here for everyone.
We’d be happy to pay for an app this slick and user-friendly, but thankfully we don’t have to. That doesn’t give us much to complain about, but we’d welcome the ability to place additional photos onto layers, more font options, and manual placement of text for word-heavy presentations that don’t quite fit the theme formats.
The bottom line. Haiku Deck makes it easy for anyone to look like a pro by creating impressive, media-rich decks with little effort, and then share them with the world in almost any way imaginable.
iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Searches for royalty-free backdrop images based on text entry. Wide variety of stylish themes (others available via in-app purchase). Decks can be further customized by exporting to PowerPoint or Keynote.
No manual placement for text. Font options limited to available themes. No layered image or QuickTime movie placement.