The new application is called Slideshark. Installed on the iPad, it lets users download, view, and manipulate a presentation that's been converted from PowerPoint into an MP4 video format that accurately mimics the full range of PowerPoint features. According to Brainshark executives, the presentation on the iPad looks and feels exactly like a native PowerPoint presentation. At the same time, the presentation is full optimized to work with the iPad's touch interface.
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"You'd expect there would be a Microsoft Office or PowerPoint app in iTunes, but they don't exist," says Jay Wilder, director of product marketing for Brainshark, Burlington, Mass. Users have been coping by turning PowerPoint slides into PDFs or converting them into videos, or using Apple's Keynote or similar, comparable applications, even though those applications can't capture the full range of PowerPoint functions, he says.
"We're interested in the true integrity of the PowerPoint file, and we read it 'as is' and play it [on the iPad] as it was intended to play," says Brainshark Product Director David Klein.
Slideshark uses the same underlying technology developed by the company for its flagship product, Brainshark, which is a Web-based authoring and distribution service that converts content in PowerPoint, Microsoft Word or other applications into on-demand, online, video-like presentations for such purposes as mobile marketing, training and customer education.
In April, the vendor unveiled Brainshark Enhanced Mobile, with a new Adobe Flash-based player for Android and Palm webOS devices, some changes to Brainshark's iOS app (launched in January), and more information about how end users view and work with a Brainshark video.
Slideshark lets an iPad user download and run the Brainshark-created conversions, without an Internet connection, just as if PowerPoint was resident on the tablet.
Slideshark is available now, as a free app via the iTunes App Store. Once downloaded, you set up a secure account at the Slideshark site, where you can upload PowerPoint files, and have them automatically converted. Then, using the Slideshark app, you can download the converted presentation and view it.
Though the app and service are currently free, Brainshark eventually plans to create paid, multi-user versions of the software, aimed at enterprise groups such as sales operations.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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