Idea: How I would do iPhone cut and paste
I know, I’m late to the party. The internet has already had plenty of discussions about the iPhone’s lack of cut and paste, and many proposals for how it could be implemented. Some people suggest complicated multitouch gestures, double-taps, or buttons with pop-up submenus you slide your finger over. Others change the iPhone’s default behavior too much. These aren’t intuitive to me. I want a solution that’s easy to use and doesn’t get in my way. It’s there when I need it, and it disappears when I don’t.
Now that I’ve had a chance to play with the iPhone for a while, I’ve come up with my own proposal. I don’t know how to make a working demo, so I’ve made some screenshots to help explain my concept. I think it feels natural, while being simple and unobtrusive.
Let’s start with some text so we have something to work with:
Holding your finger on a word currently brings up a Magnifying Glass that helps you place a cursor where you want it. My suggestion: Whenever you go into Magnify mode, the bottom row of the keyboard is replaced by one large “Hold to Select” button.
Using this button to select text should feel familiar because the action is the same as selecting text on a Macbook’s Trackpad. I normally use one hand with a Trackpad, but I find using two hands with the iPhone feels surprisingly natural because my thumb is already in a good position to press the button:
If you only move the cursor without pressing the “Hold to Select” button, the bottom row returns to normal when you let go. But if you do select text, then the “Hold to Select” button is replaced by four new buttons: Cut, Copy, Paste, and Cancel.
After you make your choice, the action is carried out and the bottom row returns to normal. I’ve selected “Cut” in this example.
When I’m ready to paste, I once again use the Magnifying Glass to place the cursor. The “Hold to Select” button comes up again but I’m not going to press it this time (although if you want to replace text, you can select a whole block of words to paste over).
If I I had nothing in my clipboard, then the bottom row would go back to normal when I release the Magnifying Glass since I didn’t select any text. But I do have something in the clipboard, so I my options are shown again.
I select “Paste” and the word in my clipboard is inserted at the cursor. The keyboard bottom row returns to normal.
In the preferences, I can decide when I want the clipboard to be cleared out. I think it makes sense to empty your clipboard every time you paste, but other options are useful in case you need to paste the same text multiple times.
This method of cut and paste also works with non-editable text where you don’t have a keyboard. If you want to copy text from Safari, for example, you hold your finger in one spot until the magnifying glass comes up. The “Hold to Select” button slides into place from below [animated gif], temporarily covering the navigation bar. Because the text is not editable, the paste and cut buttons will be inactive.
That’s the best cut/paste implementation I could think of. It doesn’t change the iPhone’s current behavior and it doesn’t get in the way. It’s clear and easy to use. What do you think?