Google recently released a beta version of a new presentations component for its Google Docs offering. Like the other components of Google Docs (a word processor and spreadsheets), the presentations option is a simple, free online program best used for sharing work with others. And like those apps, it will probably stay in "beta" mode for some time to come.
Clean Interface, Limited Features
The Google program has a very clean interface without any advertising (so far, at least). The feature checklist is pretty light, however; you can't edit a slide's background, nor do you have access to any graphic shapes, decorative text, a master slide, or any animation or transition effects. The simple effects that are available were relatively fast and effective, although we did notice some strange alignment issues on an older laptop.
Sharing with Google Docs Presentations
Google Docs Presentations' best feature is its ability to share and publish a presentation online. In fact, in Presentation mode, a handy chat panel appears, enabling the presenter and each viewer to type in comments.
Google Docs' Compatibility with Other Software
While Google lacks many formatting capabilities of its own, it does a good job of importing richly designed presentations created in PowerPoint. Unfortunately, all transfers are strictly one-way--Google presentations are shareable but only exportable as an HTML file--and any animation or transitions in the original PowerPoint show will be lost. Nevertheless, with its simple and straightforward interface, Google Docs Presentations is a fairly good online-only presentation tool, and one that's well worth the price.
More PowerPoint Alternatives
Apple iWork '08 Keynote
OpenOffice.org Impress/Sun StarOffice