Shared Paper is a lovely iPad app for making and sharing presentations on a huge scrollable canvas.
It’s one of those apps with wide appeal. Anyone who needs to present information – students, business people, academics – could put it to use.
The name, “Shared Paper,” is apt. What you get is a huge zoomable canvas on to which you can draw, write and edit your thoughts and ideas. Then you can share that canvas with other iPad users on the same network.
In use, it reminds me of web-based presentation tool Prezi. Your blank canvas stretches in four directions to each side, but also inwards, into itself. Objects can be hidden inside other objects, revealed when needed. A scale at the top of the screen shows where you are in the wider document – the canvas is finite, but it’s also huge.
All the basic drawing tools you’d expect to see are there, but with some nice extras. I really like the “Intelligent shapes” feature which turns your rough circle into a perfect one, and your dodgy square into an actual one.
You can embed images, add text, change colors and brush sizes, select and move and rotate any object at will. The controls are kept at your fingertips and are easy to learn.
To turn the document into a presentation, you can select preset views of your canvas to display as a slideshow. The slideshow transitions can be simple fades, or a snazzy fly-through that zooms from one place on the canvas to the next. That’s when it starts to look like Prezi. (Note that Prezi does have an official app of its own, Prezi Viewer, but as you’ll guess from the name, it’s a viewer and not an editor.)
Completed papers can be exported as PDF documents or images. The only thing that’s missing is exporting as a Keynote or Powerpoint file; but since you can share presentations over the network, or plug your iPad into a VGA connector and from there a big screen, or share on a TV via AirPlay and Apple TV, you could argue that exporting in those formats isn’t really necessary.
As of today, there’s a companion free product, Shared Paper Lite. This puts limits on your creating (25 objects in a document, and up to three documents at a time), but also gives people the chance to try the app, or to tune in wirelessly to shared presentations.
In a classroom, for example, the teacher could use the paid-for Shared Paper app to teach, while the students use the free version to follow along on their own devices and maybe write a short homework follow-up.
If you spend a lot of time writing presentations and are looking for a simpler, more natural way of doing it, you should certainly consider giving Shared Paper a try. It’s lots of fun, and has lots of potential.