How Apple Could Handle Copy and Paste in the iPhone

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
46,741
8,951


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
 

inkswamp

macrumors 68030
Jan 26, 2003
2,730
675
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?
 

Telp

macrumors 68040
Feb 6, 2007
3,061
16
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?
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.
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
14,500
1,783
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?

arn
 

megfilmworks

macrumors 68020
Jul 1, 2007
2,045
15
Sherman Oaks
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?
I don't think it is about ten year old technology but an interesting design concept that is somewhat timeless in appeal.
 

Barham

macrumors regular
Feb 5, 2004
151
10
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).
 

Roller

macrumors 68030
Jun 25, 2003
2,553
986
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.
 

Ha ze

macrumors regular
Jul 30, 2006
202
0
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
 

steinah6

macrumors newbie
Jul 29, 2007
6
0
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
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.
 

raejae

macrumors newbie
Aug 11, 2003
13
0
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
There is one. You have to enable it in settings; when it's turned on, you double-tap shift and voila, caps lock.
 

Synchro

macrumors member
Nov 11, 2005
39
18
France
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.
 
How would you like SELECTION/COPY/PASTE to work?

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=3932833#post3932833
Here's my idea again, refined, with a nice screenshot:


  1. Double-tap, with two fingers, and screen dims, and text is highlighted (in the closest proximity to the two fingers you tapped. iPhone does automatic "nearest word" calculations to find the most likely "end points" you wanted (when you double-tapped, but generally this won't matter because you can adjust it later). The "end points" appear as small golden "hoops". You are now in "SELECTION MODE". During "selection mode", sliding your finger across the screen still "pans" the region. Pinching to zoom still works normally, as it is a separate gesture.
  2. Using one finger, you can move the "end points", and as you do, the magnifying glass appears giving you detailed placement.
  3. Tapping ONCE inside the selected region with one finger, gives you an alert box with 4 buttons, "COPY", "CUT", "DELETE", "CANCEL". DELETE will delete the text, and CANCEL will deselect the text, and return to normal mode. NOTE: Tapping outside the selecton "CANCELS" the selection also (tapping inside brings up options).
  4. Holding down, and activating the magnifying glass, and letting go, will cause a new alert box to appear when there is text in the clipboard. The buttons will say: "PASTE", "CLEAR", "CANCEL". CANCEL will make the alert box go away. CLEAR will clear the clipboard, and stop it from coming up again until you COPY/CUT more text. If no magnifying glass is available, holding down automatically brings up the alert box for pasting.
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
 
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.
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
 

Shagrat

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2004
517
0
London
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 Phrases.Org.uk...."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!
 
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...
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.

All That is Gold Does Not Glitter
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
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
 

l12

macrumors newbie
Aug 2, 2007
10
1
Minneapolis
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?
 

elgruga

macrumors 6502
Dec 31, 2001
434
0
Canada
Why rely on what was essentially a kludge (those oddball gestures) on the Newton for the iPhone?
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..
 

ryanwarsaw

macrumors 68030
Apr 7, 2007
2,589
2,115
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)

Barham said:
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).
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.
 

jouster

macrumors 65816
Jan 21, 2002
1,170
74
Connecticut
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..
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?
 

NDimichino

macrumors 6502a
Jan 14, 2008
593
0
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.
 

swearbymac07

macrumors member
Dec 13, 2007
96
0
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.

or

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-
-Cancel-

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:

Applications
Files
Movies
Documents

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????
 

catfish743

macrumors 6502
Sep 12, 2007
305
1
Kentucky
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.