It’s a shame, really. A team of developers have partnered to finally bring a legitimate copy and paste solution to the iPhone – one that can actually move data between different applications (previous solutions could only shuffle data within the same app). But as great as it is to see a team of developers work together to overcome one of the iPhone’s shortcomings, it probably won’t see much use.
A few weeks ago, Proximi released a new text client called MagicPad that included copy and paste – a feature the iPhone has lacked and one that many users have been demanding for over a year. Copy and paste was achieved through a fairly intuitive interface, and while it may not have had the same polish that an Apple-designed solution might offer, it got the job done. Unfortunately, all copy and pasting was restricted to within MagicPad.
Now Zac White has developed an open source solution to the issue called OpenClip, a platform that will allow developers to include cross-application copy and paste. OpenClip makes use of a shared space on the iPhone that is accessible to developers and doesn’t break the SDK agreement, though Apple could conceivably reject apps that include it regardless. From Zac’s blog:
Basically, all you have to do to get the benefits is include a few classes and use the very simple API to copy data or paste data. The special part is cross application. Copy a cocktail in Cocktails and paste it into MagicPad (Video of this in action).
There are some limitations. This technically complies with all Apple agreements. It is completely possible that apps that use this wouldn’t get on the App Store. Not for any real reason other than it will eventually step on Apple’s toes. It is also conceivable that the technology this is built on will break in the future. The hope is that the update that breaks this also brings copy and paste support.
But even if the apps do get approval, Apple’s Mail and Safari applications will still be missing copy and paste. And while 3rd party apps are great additions to the iPhone, many users spend the vast majority of their time on the phone either searching the web or using email, where the functionality will still be sorely missed.
That said, the new initiative may well finally spur Apple to release its own solution. It’s uplifting to see these developers work together, but it makes Apple look like a withholding curmudgeon – obviously the phone can do copy and paste, so why not give it to us?
You can see a video about the new initiative at GeekBrief.TV here.