I’ve been excited for quite some time to see what Google would be able to pull out of their Online Presentation service, but I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with the final result. For starters, one of the great things that they did is shorten the name of their “Office Suite” to just Google Docs (prior to this it was Google Docs & Spreadsheets), but the service is still in Beta.
Before you get too excited, everything that Google Presentations has to offer isn’t all that great. Take for instance the export feature which has a lot of shortcomings. It only lets you save a presentation as a ZIP file that contains a web-based version of your presentation. It can then be viewed in any browser without an Internet connection being needed, but they don’t let you save it as a standard PowerPoint file.
Initially you may not think that is too bad since you can just email people the link to view it online instead of attaching the file itself to an email, but there was one thing that really irked me. The file size limitation on a Google Presentation is 10MB, and once you hit that you’ll be scrambling to find some way to get the presentation into a desktop app. Sorry, but the only way around that right now is to create a second presentation as a sort of continuation to the first.
Here’s a roundup that I put together of the good, the bad, and the ugly:
The Good (things I like):
- Add and position text and images
- Copy/duplicate slides
- Choose from 15 somewhat stylish themes
- Revision management makes it easy to revert prior changes
- Makes it easy to share a presentation with multiple people
- Remotely present slides with minimal work needed
- Imports PowerPoint (PPT) presentations
The Bad (things that would be nice to have):
- No animation or slide transitions
- Can’t embed videos or audio (they could have at least incorporated it with YouTube for goodness sakes)
- No editing of photos (integration with Picasa seems like a no-brainer)
- Charts and diagrams…where are they? Google Spreadsheets already supports this feature, and for most businesses this is a must when creating presentations!
The Ugly (things that will prevent me from using it):
- Can’t export presentations as a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation
- 10MB file size limitation — be careful of how many photos you insert! You can also have no more than 5,000 images across all of your presentations, documents, and spreadsheets combined.
- It’s a bit sluggish…not nearly as responsive as a desktop app
- Just 5 pre-formatted slide layouts
- Positioning of images and text is terrible if you’re trying to get them to line up nicely. They need a grid feature or the ability to line up multiple objects along, for instance, their top edge.
- Doesn’t work in Opera
Note: I made the above presentation available for public viewing.
Google Presentations will hopefully shape up fast, and turn into a compeitor of Microsoft PowerPoint or OpenOffice.org. Impress isn’t even in order. Heck, Google Presentations can hardly stand up to the likes of ThinkFree and Zoho, so putting it in a side-by-side comparison to a desktop Office app would not shine well on Google.