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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

iWork comes alive with Keynote live-video features

Keynote will let you place live camera (left) and device screen capture (right, Mac only) on slides as standard objects. You’ll need to bring your own device frames, though.

On Tuesday Apple released version 11.2 of its iWork app suite, featuring new versions of Keynote, Pages, and Numbers.

Your mileage may vary, but my favorite updates are in Keynote, which has added support for live video on slides—from cameras or (on the Mac) from device screen captures. Video objects can be added to individual slides as regular objects, which means they can appear and disappear across slides and be a part of transitions between slides. They’re croppable and can be layered above or below other objects on a slide.

This means you can present via a Keynote deck and include yourself in the presentation when necessary, and leave yourself out the rest of the time, letting you be the director of your own presentation if you’re screen-sharing with others. Combine this with Keynote’s ability to record a presentation, and you can craft a dynamic presentation that integrates your image when it makes sense. (In a weird quirk, M1 Macs won’t be able to use the video-feed feature until they update to macOS Monterey, which is not yet available in a final version.)

And of course, anyone who needs to demonstrate something happening on an Apple device will be glad that they can finally integrate live screen captures right into their slide deck.

That said… if you want it to look good, you’ll want to place an image of an iPhone or iPad above it, with a transparent screen space, so the device image can look like it’s being presented from a device and not a floating rectangle. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t provide an option to frame screen captures in device images—you’d think they’d have those image files laying around at Apple HQ!—so it will be up to the rest of us to find or create those images. It would sure make everyone’s presentations better if Keynote did this work for us.

Another new feature in Keynote that will be welcomed by those who give presentations as part of a group is the Multi-Presenter Slideshow. When a presentation is shared in iCloud, the users of that presentation can take control of the presentation when it’s their turn, and control the flow of the presentation, advancing slides at their leisure. (There’s a new Play Multi-Presenter Slideshow menu option; if you just start a slideshow normally, there’s no chance of an iCloud collaborator jumping in and stealing the clicker from you.)

I’m less excited about the updates to Numbers and Pages, but people who prefer to use Apple’s spreadsheet app to crunch serious numbers might be thrilled that the app now supports pivot tables, a classic Microsoft Excel feature that helps summarize data in large spreadsheets. There’s also a new chart type, Radar.

And as for Pages users, look, I don’t pretend to understand you. But there’s a new “screen view” that tries to intelligently alter your document’s layout in a preview mode, so that it’s readable on narrow phone screens.

Oh! And I almost neglected to mention perhaps the most notable, yet least important, new feature of the three apps: Their icons are no longer objects on a white background, but objects on a colored background—blue for Keynote, green for Numbers, and orange for Pages. Much better.

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