Presentation Remote

Slide View

In earlier posts, I talked about the difficulties of offering both a resizeable highlighter and Slide View navigation, and the limitations Keynote places on fetching slide images, and how this impacts Slide View.

Well, Presentation Remote 1.4 is currently undergoing testing, and it features both a resizable highlighter and Slide View navigation — and yes, even both at the same time!

Here’s the thing: What we wanted, was to use two-finger swipes for changing slides, and two-finger pinches to resize the highlighter. The problem is that these gestures are ambiguous — they both look like two fingers on the screen, moving around.

You can do various tests, like measure how close the fingers are to each other, and whether that distance changes, but that assumes everyone always moves their fingers perfectly in sync. If they drift apart slightly during the swipe, it looks like a pinch. Similarly, while you’re resizing the highlighter, you might move both fingers at the same time to just tweak the position slightly — this would now look like a two-finger swipe.

We ended up rewriting Slide View gesture-recognition completely. The new system has a number of refinements that should improve all the gestures, not just the new ones. The major change is that it takes the approach that whatever you start doing, you intend to keep doing — at least, until you take your fingers off the screen.

So, if you pinch/unpinch, it assumes that no matter how you move your fingers, you’re still adjusting the highlighter — until you lift both fingers off the screen completely. Likewise, once you start swiping, if your fingers don’t move perfectly in sync, it doesn’t care, it continues to treat it as a swipe.

There’s still a hazy middle-ground: what if you just rest two fingers on the screen but don’t move them? What if you start off by moving both fingers sideways but also slightly apart?

Well, we use a mixture of timings and thresholds (of speed, distance and separation) to figure out what’s going on. And it works pretty well! Of course, it might not be perfect for everyone, and the feature is disabled by default. You’ll be able to switch it on in the Settings — you can either choose:

  • no advanced gestures at all
  • resize only (as in the current version)
  • navigate only
  • resize/navigate, using the new gesture-recognition

We recommend you try them out and see which you feel most comfortable with.

So, what about this navigation in Slide View? Well, we have no magic wand to get slide images out of Keynote in advance, but we’ve tweaked Presentation Manager slightly to reduce the delay; we also have a “placeholder” slide that appears while you wait, that includes the slide and build numbers, the same as in Notes View. This gives you the necessary feedback while you’re dragging/swiping in Slide View. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s as good as we’re going to get without assistance from Keynote.

As I mentioned, we’re currently testing it out — since more than usual has changed under the hood in this version, it needs a corresponding amount of extra testing — but we hope to send this version off soon. We think it’ll make a lot of people happy. :)