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Build beautiful slide decks on your iPad with Haiku Deck

Who needs PowerPoint when you can generate slick presentations with this free app?

You're on the train to work. Inspiration strikes. You've just figured out how to double market share and save the company. Now you just have to sell the idea to the team.

Sure, you could pull out your laptop, wait for it to boot, run PowerPoint, and start the slow, laborious process of building a killer presentation.

Or you could pull out your iPad, run Haiku Deck, and start the fast, fun process of building a killer presentation -- and finish it before the train reaches your stop.

This is not hyperbole: Haiku Deck is one of the coolest slide-makers I've ever tried, in part because it's incredibly easy to use, and in part because it's smart.

As you probably know, half the battle in crafting a nice-looking slide is finding appropriate artwork to go with it. Haiku Deck lets you add your own, of course, but it also searches millions of free (i.e. Creative Commons-licensed) images based on the words you've chosen for that slide.

So, for example, if you enter words like "sales" and "money," you'll quickly get a list of thumbnails that match. Tap one you like and presto: You've got the perfect background for your slide.

You can also opt for a solid background color or insert your choice of bar, pie, or numeric charts, with manually entered labels and numbers.

Ultimately, Haiku Deck is all about whipping together attractive slides, and it's great for that. When you're done, you can share your deck via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail, or get embed code for use with your blog or Web site. You even have the option of exporting your presentation for further tweaking in, say, PowerPoint or Keynote. Here's a sample, one that introduces Haiku Deck itself:

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

However, the app is definitely somewhat limited. It doesn't support sound, transitions, or animations. You can't manually place your text, and I couldn't figure out a way to change the background color for charts. In fact, trying to make any major slide changes often caused me to lose the work I'd already done. There's no "save" option as such.

That said, once you figure out Haiku Deck's mechanics (it took me all of about 10 minutes to fully learn the app), you'll find it a great tool for building short, simple, attractive slide decks on the run. And you can't beat the price: it's free. (There are additional themes you can buy, but I think most users will find the free ones sufficient.)

While we're on the subject of cool presentations, be sure to check out Prezi, which helps you build stunning animated ones. And, as always, if you've found another resource you like better, tell me about it in the comments.

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