How Apple Could Handle Copy and Paste in the iPhone

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    One feature found to be missing from the iPhone is "Copy and Paste".

    If Apple decides to implement this feature in the iPhone, the obvious question becomes... how? The iPhone does not have the traditional menu bar to allow users to select "copy" or "paste". What's interesting is that Apple has tackled this issue before in the Newton -- Apple's now discontinued personal digital assistant.

    As the story goes, Apple wanted the Newton to have a true handheld operating system, rather than a shrunk down desktop operating system. Certain design features, such as Copy/Paste, exemplified this design goal.

    Read more
  2. macrumors 68020


    Jan 26, 2003
    Why would the iPhone rely on 10+ year old technology like the Newton? It has one massive advantage over the Newton: multitouch. Why not allow a user to tap-and-hold in one location of text and tap-and-hold in another location. After a second, the system would highlight the text between the taps and voila, selected text to drag around. Or maybe tapping inside the selected area copies, double-tapping cuts, etc. Why rely on what was essentially a kludge (those oddball gestures) on the Newton for the iPhone?
  3. macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2007
    I like that idea of using the multitouch. Ive played around with that on the iphone and its really fun, would love to be able to place one finger at the beginning of text and another finger at the end of the text to highlight it all. Brilliant, and probably the most logical way to do it.
  4. macrumors 65816


    Oct 12, 2006
    Pasadena, CA
    I would think with multitouch technology, gestures could be used for commands such as copy and paste.
  5. macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2007
    Exactly =] Apple will do it...i hope...
  6. arn
    macrumors god


    Staff Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    I think the beauty of the implementation is making the clipboard a special location on the screen (the edge) - and more natural than a gesture (what would that be?). You can select the text how you want (multitouch), but you have to shrink it down into a smaller representation otherwise it will get "in the way" of your application you are trying to use.

    With the multitouch, what if the text is larger than the viewable screen?

  7. macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2007
    Sherman Oaks
    I don't think it is about ten year old technology but an interesting design concept that is somewhat timeless in appeal.
  8. macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Some form of a clipboard would be amazing. Going back 'old skewl' would be pretty great as well.
  9. macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2004
    There is already a good thread here at Macrumors about copy/paste that has what I think would be a much better solution. It's not my idea but it involves a simple gesture and a UI element that remains onscreen. I believe the author was calling them "golden hoops," but the name isn't important. Once these elements were present, the user would be able to grab and slide them anywhere in a body of text. At that point, the gesture is repeated and a dialog appears asking for cut/copy. There is a more complete and detailed explanation in the original thead (including a very nicely
    made graphic).
  10. macrumors 68000

    Jun 25, 2003
    This is going to be difficult to do well.

    1. Tap, hold and drag would work to select text, but this gesture is already used to finely position the cursor within editable text fields. Maybe a double tap, hold and drag would work for selecting text, but its scope of action would have to be expanded to let it function on non-editable text, as on a Web page.

    Alternatively, if you could limit selections to editable text (i.e,. where the keyboard is displayed), you could add a key that would make the single tap, hold and drag select text rather than move the cursor.

    2. The next step is to indicate whether you want to cut or copy the highlighted text. A simple pop-up menu could work here. Tap and hold in the selection to display a menu with three options, cut, copy, and cancel (to deselect).

    3. The next step, indicating where to paste, is relatively easy, since it's no different than editing existing text now.

    4. The last step, pasting the text, is probably the most challenging. It's easy to position the insertion point using the magnifying glass, but then you'd need another gesture to actually initiate the paste operation.

    For this, it might be best to add a "paste" key to the keyboard. It would be highlighted when there was text on the clipboard and dimmed otherwise.
  11. macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2006
    you know what else they could add? a caps lock, so i dont have to hit shift for every letter, even just let me hold shift and type would be fine
  12. macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2007
    Double-tap the shift key, it makes caps lock. If it doesnt work go to the keyboard preferences in general settings and enable caps lock.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2003
    There is one. You have to enable it in settings; when it's turned on, you double-tap shift and voila, caps lock.
  14. macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2005
    London, UK
    Newton had many more subtleties to its text editing. Copy (as opposed to cut) works by double-tap-drag, and there are other gestures for insertion, deletion, upper/lower casing of words and chars, without resorting to the bland stupidity of an on-screen keyboard. An advantage of using a general area like the edge of the screen is that you're not constrained to a single clipboard (though vanilla Newton didn't do it, add-ons did). Things dragged between apps were not limited to text, image or drawing selections, but also objects and links between objects (e.g. linking an address book entry to a calendar event). Newton was almost an academic exercise in how to do a really good, deep and subtle UI. unfortunately it wasn't an example of how to do a great commercial product - though the hardware spec for the 2100 was only overtaken by palm about 10 years later! Newton still has many concepts and approaches that are way beyond anything you can buy now. I think it's a shame that it didn't get open-sourced.
  15. macrumors 65816


    May 25, 2007
    Pocket Universe, nth Dimensional Complex Manifold
    How would you like SELECTION/COPY/PASTE to work?
    Posted this a couple of weeks ago. No overlapping gestures. Hard to initiate accidentally. I think this one is free and clear. The "Newton" article is interesting, but the Newton solution doesn't work for iPhone, it'd be a train wreck to implement.

    ~ CB
  16. macrumors 65816


    May 25, 2007
    Pocket Universe, nth Dimensional Complex Manifold
    Capslock is "OFF" by default. You, like me, probably went around turning things "on" that seemed like possibly useful features when you got the thing. Recently I turned it off, and forgot about it. Nearly drove me mad until I turned it back on.

    ~ CB
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    Re your sig. Bahram...
    "All that is gold does not glitter"
    -J.R.R. Tolkien

    Er...the original "quote" is actually from Shakespeare, not Tolkein...

    Quote from"Shakespeare is the best-known user of the idea. The original Shakespeare editions of The Merchant of Venice, 1596, have the line as 'all that glisters is not gold'. 'Glister' is now usually replaced by the more commonly used 'glitter', which has the same meaning.."
    but also points out that...
    "The 12th century French theologian Alain de Lille wrote "Do not hold everything gold that shines like gold". so that preceded Shakespeare!...

    Welcome to pedant's corner!
  18. macrumors 65816


    May 25, 2007
    Pocket Universe, nth Dimensional Complex Manifold
    Yikes (non-sequitar warning). You DO realize that inverting the phrase has an entirely different meaning, and that there is a difference between "correcting" someone (which you seem to think you're doing, using the word "actually"), and simply adding random trivia (which isn't always worthwhile). You said its "not Tolkein", when it is (clearly no one said anything about anything being an "original" quote either). "All the glitters isn't gold." (and its variations) is a comment about "fool's gold", or mistaking something "shiney" as something of value (as it may not be valuable at all). The reverse, is to comment on the "diamond in the rough"... different than a warning, this statement is instead a presenting of opportunity, and a beautiful poem by Tolkein.

    My own advice: Don't be so caught up in correcting someone that you overlook a perfectly good quote you may not be familiar with.

    ~ CB
  19. l12
    macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2007
    Simple method

    All of these ideas seem unnecessarily complicated to me, I have a very simple way to do it.

    Holding down the home button allows you to drag and select text on the touch screen. When you release it a little menu appears a la right-click menu in windows with the options "copy, cut, delete". Paste would have to be a button or a gesture but I think this is the best option for selecting. Or do we need to be able to do it with one hand?
  20. macrumors 6502


    Dec 31, 2001
    A kludge?

    I think you know not of what you speak, friend.

    The Newt still has a lot to offer - a great idea/product abandoned because of poor management - Jobs had to drop it, but I doubt he was happy about it..
  21. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/3A109a Safari/419.3)

    That does sound sort of slick if I am visualizing the concept correctly. If it has taken Apple this long to develop It then I think it will probably turn out pretty cool.
  22. macrumors 65816

    Jan 21, 2002
    Indeed. That seems to be an extremely elegant and easy-to-use solution.

    Did the Newton allow more than one piece of text to be fixed to the side of the screen?
  23. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 14, 2008
    New Jersey
    I was thinking, for copy/paste...

    You put the cursor somewhere, then at the bottom of the screen there will be a "highlight" button, first push starts the highlighting, you place the cursor where you want it to end, press the "highlight" button again, and the selection is highlighted.

    Then, to cut, the delete button already in the keyboard can take care of that. Then there is the addition of the "copy/paste" button. This will take the selection and allow you to obviously copy and paste it. I would think maybe the flip up corner would be useful for these additional buttons and features just like the new button additions 1.1.3 saw in the Maps feature.

    Figured this is the easiest way because obviously holding and dragging the cursor just magnifies and moves it, so the button is essential without getting into too many complicated touch techniques I'm seeing people suggest.
  24. macrumors member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Easier Way

    To copy applications/webclips:

    Hold finger on icon until it starts to wiggle. Keep finger on icon, duplicate will form allowing you to put it inside a Folder in the wanted Finder for iPod or on the Dock.

    To Copy Text:

    Hold a finger at the start of the text until the zoom bubble appears and select the start of the portion of text you want to copy. then use another finger to highlight it and double tap it to bring up options to save it to Notes.


    Hold a finger at the start of the text until the zoom bubble appears and wait for it to shimmer/glow. use the same finger to drag to the end of the text you want to select/copy/save and let go. Double tap the selection to bring up a list of options:

    -Save to Notes-
    -Email Text-
    -Copy to Clipboard-
    -Clear Selection-

    Upon selecting option 1 or 2, quit the app the source text is from, open up the other app and paste it automatically or double tap notes and choose:

    -Paste from Clipboard-

    Or open up email after quitting the source text app, and by default, auto paste text into new email.

    As for Finder:

    Use the Music App's list view with 4 options on the greeny blue bottom bar:


    And have the list view populate with all of your folders. Plus Hierarchy View which opens up a new list whenever a populated folder is selected. Upon opening things such as an MP3 File, launch Music and copy the MP3 into a new Playlist and start playing it in Now Playing. The same concept with Movie Files, Text Files, HTML Files, and general files but with opening the appropriate Apple App or 3rd Party SDK app.

    Any other suggestions????
  25. macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2007
    I honestly don't care how they do it, I would just like it to happen. And they can always go back and change it. Possibly the could even give the option to modify how to do it all.

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