Thoughts on copy/paste.


macrumors G3
Original poster
Jul 10, 2007
How to implement copy/paste has been discussed, and mocked up in video.

In addition to the logistics of physically making copy/paste work, one of the challenges Apple would face, if they do implement it, is deciding on content and context.

What can we copy/paste and where can we do it? Is it text only? Text and images? Is it only in SMS/email/notes, or in Safari too?

What happens if a user highlights a block of text in Safari, and there's a photo inside the block? Is the photo copied/pasted with the text? What if the photo is 1mb? Is it optimized? Discarded over a certain size? What happens if you accidently copy some text with a photo in it and try to paste it into a SMS?

Is the pasted text formatted as it was before it was copied? Bold? Italic? Underlined? (all things the keyboard doesn't support)

The more I think about it, the more complex copy/paste gets. And the more I think about Apple, the more I think there's no way they simply overlooked copy/paste. The simplest, most obvious method to begin a copy/paste session is to tap and hold over a word...but Apple stole that functionality and gave it to the magnifying glass. This makes me wonder if we may never see copy/paste on an iPhone, just like we have never seen crossfading on an iPod, despite a huge user base begging for it for 6 years.


macrumors P6
I did some research into alternative gestures, but it all comes down to the fact that, since iPHone has drag-scrolling, it's probably going to have to be a double-fingered gesture of some sort. But they've taken two fingers already for scrolling frames.

Talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place!

So I agree with you, it sure would be easiest to steal tap-and-hold.

I was just reading a UI study, showing that once people have learned gestures do certain things, it's hard to change. But better to change it now than later.

I wonder if Apple was trying too hard to differentiate themselves from Windows Mobile, by avoiding what it does. WM's "right-click by tap-and-hold" context menus make a lot of sense.


macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2007
I think that this is a feature we will definitely see in a future firmware update, much like true A2DP Bluetooth support (not like the TUAW hack but true support.) Whether it is implemented as you suggest or similar to the recent video that's circulating the net. The iPhone hardware/chipsets will support it, in both cases, it's just a question of updating the software. That to me is one of the smartest features of the iPhone.

I think the timeline was so aggressive for the iPhone, combined with having to keep some development resources on the new OS, that Apple just had to make some choices on what to spend time on for "launch"... phase one if you will. No doubt, we'll see the true beauty of the iPhone continue to emerge over time.


macrumors P6
The iPhone hardware/chipsets will support it, in both cases, it's just a question of updating the software. That to me is one of the smartest features of the iPhone..
Yeah, if it ever gets really used to bring big changes :D

Seriously, any smartphone's software can be updated. Nothing unique about that.

Some even get updates over the air. Now that makes sense. Why should a phone have to be tied to a computer for activation or updates? That's so... 2005 ;)