SlideShark has a couple of functions that work independently of one another. First is the ability to store PowerPoint-format presentations in the user’s online account and then later retrieve them to an iOS device through the app. The presentation may then be shown on an external screen by using the various display adapters available for iOS devices, or via AirPlay to a compatible Apple TV. Gestural controls may be used to navigate the slideshow, and on iPad it’s possible to view the presentation in presenter mode to see notes and the like. There is no means of streaming the presentation in real-time to a dedicated URL, unlike the excellent (and also free) Electric Slide, which we reviewed recently.
The second function of the app is that presentations may be shared online for people to view at their convenience. Any presentation that the user has added to their account may have sharing turned on or off at will — turning sharing on generates a unique and rather cumbersome URL which may then be shared via email, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. If shared via social networks, the URL is shortened via the Share This service in a web browser rather than using iOS 5 and 6’s built-in Twitter and Facebook features; if shared via email, the user receives a rich text email with a preview image of the presentation inviting them to click and play it.
Shared presentations use fixed timings, though viewers may pause and scrub through them as they see fit. A “Contents” page also allows viewers to skip back and forth between slides at will. The number of users who have viewed the slideshow online is tracked, and those who have a premium account with SlideShark have access to more detailed metrics.
The app is free, but places a 100MB limit on the user’s cloud storage account initially. This may be increased by referring friends, which can be done within the app, or by signing up for the “SlideShark Plus” account via in-app purchase. A single year’s subscription to SlideShark Plus will set the user back $94.99 and provides 1GB of storage plus access to the more detailed metrics — but still no apparent means of real-time streaming and presenting.
The lack of this feature is what makes SlideShark difficult to recommend over Electric Slide. While the ability to simply share an auto-running “hands-off” presentation to the Web is helpful for those who simply want to share content to be viewed at the individual’s convenience, Electric Slide’s ability to turn any Web-connected computer into a PowerPoint presentation device — complete with animations — is immensely practical for business users who are frequently on the go and can’t always rely on access to dedicated AV equipment. Arguably these two apps fit two different needs, then, but Electric Slide certainly seems to be the more practical option, if only for the fact that it allows for true wireless presentation without the need for reliance on external devices or adapters.