How about piped data instead of copy and paste?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by inkswamp, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. inkswamp macrumors 68030


    Jan 26, 2003
    I keep thinking that the reason there isn't copy and paste functionality on the iPhone yet is that Apple isn't going to do a traditional copy and paste thing on the iPhone. Maybe Apple is working on a replacement concept for traditional copy and paste that is more suited to a phone environment. The more I think about that, the more I think that something like Unix command line pipes might be suitable.

    Here's the idea. You would be able to select items or text in one application. Say, you enter a selection mode where the edges of the screen pulse or do something to indicate that it's not normal user mode. You select things by touching and dragging while in that mode. Once you're done, you double-tap and the iPhone pulls up a list of applications that can accept what you have selected.

    At that point, you tap the application and it "pipes" the selected items to that application by opening the application and presenting you with whatever the application does (or an intermediate dialog for situations where the app can interpret or use the piped data in several different ways.) For example, an email program would pull up your selection as the contents of a new email. Notes would present you with a a dialog to create a new note or append to an existing one. Calendar would offer to create a new calendar entry. Safari would pipe the data into whatever form element is selected in its frontmost page.

    Obviously developers would have to rewrite their apps to deal with piped data, but that would give some applications a fair amount of flexibility and still keep the UI clean and easy to understand for the user.

    So, good idea or bad?
  2. Benjamindaines macrumors 68030


    Mar 24, 2005
    A religiously oppressed state
    It's a decent idea, but I think it just over-complicates things. The jailbreak app Clippy adds copy and paste in a traditional way and works perfectly; if Apple just added something like that all would be good.
  3. ppc750fx macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2008
    It's a decent idea, but I'm not quite as optimistic as you. Apple tried much the same thing with OpenDoc, and look how that turned out...
  4. The General macrumors 601

    Jul 7, 2006
    God I hope not. Just give us copy and paste like in MagicPad, and enable long-press of paragraphs in Safari and I'm good to go.
  5. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Here's the real reason it doesn't exist yet: They don't know what the gesture should be. Yes, yes... I know you and your friend figured out some way that works perfectly. Here's the problem: Once Apple adds it, they're stuck. They can NEVER change it once people learn it.

    So what if they discover that their copy-swipe would actually work better as some other function 4 months from now? They're screwed.

    My guess is that 3.0 will feature a BUNCH of gestures that do things. What, I don't know, but there will be 8-12 gestures that do things to the phone. Copy and paste will be 2 gestures, but they can't impliment that until they're CERTAIN that they're happy with all the other gestures. I'm sure they're currently playing around with them, trying to decide which finger motion goes best with which action. They won't release these guestures until they're certain they like them all.

    So there's your problem: It's not cut and paste that's taking a lot of's the introduction of a whole new way to interact with your phone. Obviously that's going to take some time. They probably started on it after the 3G phone came out (since the 3G and app store took so much work they obviously didn't work on it before then) and it's only been 7 months since that happened.

    I can easily see such a complicated update taking 8-12 months to get right. So the timing seems perfectly fine to me.
  6. Cakester macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2009
    This makes a lot of sense. I guess my thread is null at this point.
  7. anjinha macrumors 604


    Oct 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    I completely agree. That's what I always thought.
  8. TJisYeah macrumors member

    Jan 12, 2009
    I have copy paste on my iphone.. sucks to have a non jailbroken iphone hahahah
  9. inkswamp thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 26, 2003
    Not really. I've had an iPhone for 4 months now and I've literally only needed copy and paste once. Maybe I'm not typical. Maybe everyone else needs copy and paste badly but I've found that my usage doesn't really require it. For all the carping about it, I've found it to be pretty much a non-issue. I certainly wouldn't be dumb enough to jailbreak my phone for such a seldom used feature.

    And in response to some other posts here, my piped data concept comes from the fact such an approach is already there in the iPhone. You can click the "email this photo" link in photos and it pipes the image over to the email program. You click a phone number on a web page and Safari hands it over to the phone. There are other examples. In some ways, I prefer that kind of interapplication movement of data and it seems simpler and more streamlined for use on a limited platform like a mobile phone than copy and paste. If any company out there can figure out how to make that approach trump the traditional copy and paste approach, I think it would be Apple.

    And as far as them trying to figure out the proper gesture, I don't buy it. It's Apple we're talking about. If copy and paste were going to be part of the iPhone it would have been there from the start and the proper UI/gestures would have been worked out. The fact that so many third parties can figure out how to implement it and Apple hasn't yet tells me that copy and paste as we know it just isn't in the cards.
  10. TJisYeah macrumors member

    Jan 12, 2009
    I was saying just in general. With a jailbroken iphone you add SOO much functionality that apple hasnt allowed.

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