Electric Slide 2: Conversation with Jim Phelan

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 AM IST



Jim PhelanJim Phelan
has architected, designed and developed numerous business productivity, healthcare and e-learning applications. He is the co-founder of elucidate llc, where he created Electric Slide, elucidate’s core product, as well as several healthcare applications. Jim lives in Brooklyn with his mischievous cat Zeus, whose spirit name is Peeve.

In this conversation, Jim discusses the new Electric Slide 2.

Geetesh: Tell us more about Electric Slide, how it evolved, and how it fulfills the requirement for a presenting app that takes advantage of the iOS platform?

Jim: Electric Slide lets you present PowerPoint, Keynote, documents and videos to any web browser (or via an adapter or AirPlay), all from your iPhone or iPad. It was conceived of as a way to eliminate the hassle involved when presenting in person. Coming from the web collaboration space, I was aware that there are lots of high quality PC based tools for sharing and presenting content to a remote audience, but what didn’t seem to exist was a quality way for the mobile-equipped presenter to easily share their presentation in a physical meeting and also around the world.

Electric SlideFor the presenter who wants to present PowerPoint, documents, video and (now) Keynote from their iPhone or iPad, there weren’t many good solutions. We really focused on making mobile presenting accessible regardless of the scenario, so whether you’re in a conference room with an adapter or presenting to a group of viewers on web browsers, it just works. We also invested a lot of time in making the app work in less than perfect conditions, such as degraded or non-existent Internet connectivity.

We decided to make the app a native iOS app to take advantage of some of the more advanced features of iOS. One example of this is how we allow users to snap and share a photo. Imagine you’re presenting in a conference room with a couple of attendees on the phone, and someone decides to sketch something out on the whiteboard. With this feature you can quickly snap a photo and share it in real-time to your remote audience. We also do some pretty interesting stuff with Bluetooth pairing where we enable devices to control each other even in the absence of an Internet connection. This is reinforced by our syncing feature, which automatically downloads and stores your content to your device so you can present it anywhere.

In terms of evolution, every new version of Electric Slide has brought new features, increased performance and higher fidelity when making PowerPoint, document and video content web friendly. We actually support most of your PowerPoint (and now Keynote) animations and transitions in a web browser — so your audience just goes to your simple URL and will see your presentation as you intended it to be seen. Our new version brings greatly improved document quality (such as PDFs and Word documents) and also adds page thumbnails for quickly navigating documents.

Geetesh: What are your favorite new features in Electric Slide version 2?

Jim:There are so many new features in version 2 that it’s hard to choose, but I think the big winner with our users will be the new version’s ability to control Keynote presentations from iPhone and iPad. This is by far our most requested feature; the current version supports PowerPoint, documents and videos, but not Keynote. It was also a technical feat to accomplish, so we’re quite happy about the way it turned out.

Electric Slide

I think the Email Inbox feature will make a lot of people’s lives easier as well. Rather than upload presentations directly to Electric Slide you can now email them to a private email address we provide you with. This feature is included in the free version and will make things simpler for a lot of people — if you receive an email with an attachment you want to present, simply forward it and it will appear in your account. If you have an assistant or agency doing your presentation work they can easily send it to your address as well. One fun way to use this feature is to record a quick video on your device and email it off — in a short time you can broadcast this video for all of your viewers to see.

This version also introduces web based, monthly payments. Before we were only allowing Pro account upgrades via in app purchases in the App Store, but now any user can get a Pro account online — we’re offering this for a limited time for just $4.99 a month as an introductory price.

Sharing your PowerPoint and Keynote presentations is now possible with this version as well. Just tap the share button and a web-friendly link will be delivered to recipients of your choosing. This web viewer link lets viewers check out a web based version of your content at their leisure and is great for following up to a meeting without having to attach your bulky PowerPoint file to an email.

Personally, however, the Broadcast Zoom feature is my favorite. It’s deceptively simple — just pinch to zoom on your document or slides while presenting. Once you do, your audience (whether on the web or watching on a TV or projector) will see you zoom in real-time. This nicely complements the laser pointer feature and gives you several options to call out important content. We also provide an option to let you zoom privately which can be quite helpful for users presenting from a phone.

Electric Slide

Categories: interviews, ipad, iphone, keynote, online_presentations, powerpoint

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