As great as the iPhone and iPhone 3G platforms are at playing media, surfing the web, mobile blogging, and even finding the nearest Starbucks in your area, there’s a critical shortcoming in its otherwise superb UI. Cut-and-paste functionality has been a sticking point that has drawn the iPhone’s Mac OS much criticism and ire from fans and haters alike. But, until now, the absence of cut/paste features has been fairly manageable.
Any potential pieces of information that Apple foresaw users would need to transfer or interact with (email addresses, phone numbers, hyperlinks) were automatically detected and linked to an action that Apple reasoned would be the most likely path taken by an iPhone user. Phone numbers were automatically linked to the iPhone’s phone application. Tapping an email address would bring up a new email message in the iPhone’s Mail application. Hyperlinks would lead to the target webpage within Safari. And so on.
But, with the iPhone now being developed en masse and iPhone applications widely available through the AppStore, the need for cut-and-paste functionality is greater than ever. As iPhone Central‘s Dan Moren points out, applications like the just-launched WordPress iPhone application would benefit to no end from a working cut/paste feature on the iPhone. Embedding an external URL in to a blog post is easy enough when you can copy and paste the too-long-to-remember address in to the post’s text. But, without any way to copy the URL, aside from manually jotting it down on a piece of paper (or seriously testing your memory), embedding a URL in to a WordPress post turns in to an exercise in tediousness.
Of course, there are solutions to getting commonly copied information transferred to another application. Data URLs allow for rudimentary and buggy cut/paste within Safari. The iPhone Flickr-browser Exposure lets you export a link to a Flickr picture straight to your Twiterrific Twitter client. Other applications have built-in browsers to allow for quick browsing of embedded hyperlinks without having to memorize and input the address in to Safari. Still, these are workarounds, not real solutions.
Will Apple see fit to bring cut-and-paste functionality to the iPhone? According to Apple’s Greg Joswiak, cut/paste is quite low on the iPhone UI developmental priority list – taking a back-seat to turn-by-turn GPS navigation. We’re torn between wanting a full-featured GPS navigation solution and a working cut-and-paste feature on the iPhone.
I would prefer that Apple concentrate on bringing cut/paste to the field ahead of enhanced GPS features. But, what say you, dear readers? Better GPS or cut-n-paste?