Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at mobile apps that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

SlideShark makes PowerPoint on iPads less painful

I love my iPad and often carry it to meetings. I also love PowerPoint and often (OK, almost always) use it to help formulate and organize my ideas. Until I discovered SlideShark, using PowerPoint with my iPad was difficult and often ineffective. SlideShark is a web-based platform designed with one purpose in mind—to store and deliver PowerPoint presentations. The process is simple. You begin by uploading your PPT deck from your computer (or from cloud-based sites such as Dropbox) to the site where it is “processed” for delivery and display. From there, you use the app in Presenter Mode to play your show exactly as it would appear on-screen, shared seamlessly with others. Functionality includes timings, builds, transitions, and audio and video, and the app supports annotations. You can also download the “processed” file for display offline. The free account limits decks to 50 slides and storage to 25 megabytes. The Pro version removes the 50-slide limit, increases storage to 1 gigabyte, and adds other functionality. There is also a business-oriented Team version. While it’s possible to use PowerPoint on an iPad without SlideShark, it certainly is a much less elegant experience. With SlideShark available, why try?  

  • Website: slideshark.com                  
  • Cost: Basic version is free; SlideShark Pro is $8 per month for one user; SlideShark Team is $12.50 per user per month.
  • Operating Systems: iOS; Web

 

Online storage/synchronization: Dropbox, et al.

Dropbox is one of four or five major players in the file-synchronization business. All provide access to your files anytime, anyplace, and from any device. You simply install and configure the chosen platform for your computer(s) and mobile device(s) and gain instant access to all your files. The files are stored online and, depending on your chosen configuration, synchronized to one or more computers or devices. I use Dropbox to synchronize my two office desktops as well as my MacBook Pro. Since my MacBook Air has limited storage, I only synchronize a few files to it. But all my files are available to me at all times. If you’ve suffered the indignities of emailing files to yourself so you could work somewhere else, you’ll immediately understand the incredible usefulness of this service.

Major competitors are Dropbox, Google Drive, Box personal, and Microsoft OneDrive, with Apple making a push into this niche with iCloud. All provide similar services and differ only slightly in features and benefits. Their free service storage varies from 2 to 15 GB. Prices for the expanded paid service have fallen drastically in the past few months, with $10 per month now enough to get you 100 GB to 1 terabyte. Look for online storage space to eventually become “too cheap to measure” and go the way of (most) cellphone plans, which went from “XX minutes per month” to unlimited.

While it’s possible to use these platforms for client interaction, I don’t suggest it. They’re not robust enough for high-volume, high-security, many-to-many use. There are many professional-grade, portal-style options for that. But Dropbox and its competitors can certainly simplify your life in other areas.

Greg LaFollette is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.

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