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Kamis, 07 November 2013

Why Apple's promise to throw Keynote users a bone doesn't give me hope

Apple recently killed it's once-great presentation software, Keynote, with the release of "New Keynote". They now promise to try to revive a few limbs of the cadaver in the coming months.

The mounting negative reviews of Apple's iWork are piling up at the Mac App Store. As of this writing, each has garnered many more 1-star reviews than 5-star reviews. Apple wants to put an end to the embarrassing barrage of scathingly accurate 1-star reviews, so they're waving a small white flag.

Apple's corporate confession and plea for patience from angry users

They don't promise to bring the cadaver completely back to life. We are supposed to feel esuaged by their promise to restore a few of the highly complained-about feature deletions.

Since I don't dare put my existing Keynote files at risk of contamination from Keynote 6, I have neither upgraded to Mac OS X Mavericks nor Keynote 6. So others will know better what, specifically, Apple has broken and is not even promising to fix. Among them,

• QuickTime's new inability to handle Interactive QuickTime files. For Keynote users, this means presos that have been exported to QuickTime with manual advance and hyperlink capabilities are newly broken. Turns out your colleagues running QuickTime on Windows machines still enjoy this feature, but neither you nor anyone else running Mavericks can. Want better performance with Apple's QuickTime? Get a PC.

• Keynote 6's tendency of breaking Keynote 5 files. You know, the ones you painstakingly perfected down to the pixel? Keynote 6 appears to randomly rearrange your well-crafted slides so you can get to know Keynote 6 better in the hours you'll spend repairing your presos, slide by slide.

• Alpha-channel transparency in video. I didn't use this, so boy, what a lucky break. I do use alpha transparency in still images and presume (with no proof) that that still works.

• All the extant transitions, builds, and animations. Legacy users who opted for early adoption of Keynote 6 are finding out item by item which old things no longer work in the new regime. Sure, Apple has promised to do some restoration work, but who knows what will be added back and what won't.

Apple has waved the white flag of "Hey, if you liked Keynote before October 22, go back and use the pre-October 22 version!" They promise that within half a year (isn) they'll have Keynote 6 (2013) up to something somewhat reminiscent of Keynote 5 (2009). Five years later and precious little in the way of actual improvements. (This principle of improving software in subsequent releases is a long-standing tradition that computer users have become accustomed to since, well since software has been developed. It applied to Keynote from version 1.0 through version 5.3.)

I want to believe there will be time when Apple builds Keynote into a more capable presentation program than it was in version 5.3, but even if they follow through on all their promises, 6 will remain a weak shell of what 5.3 was.

What's truly broken was not mentioned in Apple's memo. And that's Apple's vision for Keynote. They've killed the role it was born to play: the high-octane software Steve Jobs would use to create bad-ass, cinematic presos capable of emasculating an army of crouching PowerPoint users.

Rather than allowing you to be awesome on a Mac, the new Keynote aspires to let you be mediocre on multiple devices and across platforms.

There is some genius in Apple's "We promise to fix it in the future" memo. The corporation thereby grants license to each user to imagine that the stripped feature most dear to them will soon be restored. If not in the first update, then surely in the second. And if not in that one, surely by the next. Pretty soon, it's 2018 and you're crossed fingers have long ago gone numb.

My enthusiasm remains highly curbed.

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