By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 11:32 pm
Some of us just sit around tsk-tsking at Apple for its failure to get around to giving iPhones the ability to cut and paste text between applications. Proximi, the company behind the MagicPad rich text editor for the iPhone, has taken matters into its own hands. They’re spearheading OpenClip, an initiative to add iPhone cut-and-paste that works across applications. And they’re working with the developers of a bunch of applications–Cocktails, Dial Zero, Twittelator, and Ultralingua, as well as their own MagicPad–to implement it.
The OpenClip folks say they’ve figured out a way to make cut-and-paste operate in a way that works within the limitations of Apple’s iPhone SDK, which doesn’t generally allow applications to talk to each other. It’ll be fascinating to see whether every applications that would benefit from cut-and-paste hops aboard the OpenClip bandwagon–and just how long that bandwagon is a useful one. (Apple has allowed that it plans to get around to doing cut-and-paste, but nobody outside the company knows when to expect it; it could be next month or next year.)
I don’t know how easy it is for a developer to make OpenClip work, but my fear is that some developers will decide not to put the effort into adding it, hoping that official Apple cut-and-paste might show up any day. And once Apple does deliver true system-level cut-and-paste, will it coexist with OpenClip? How long will it take for apps that support OpenClip to support Apple cut-and-paste, too? Who knows? Right now, nobody does–including OpenClip, and including Apple.
One other gotcha that seems inevitable: Apple won’t support OpenClip, meaning that at least a couple of the apps that would benefit most from cut-and-paste, Safari and Notes, won’t have it. I can’t see Apple actively supporting OpenClip, but I hope that it does nothing to discourage it.
I’m a user of the iPhone WordPress app, so I’m looking forward to this even though I haven’t tried any of the other programs that have pledged support. And even though–full disclosure–I haven’t once been in a situation yet when I wanted to cut-and-paste something on my iPhone 3G. (I’m not sure if that’s evidence that it’s less essential than everyone says it is, or that I’m not an iPhone power user.)
Here’s a video of Cali Lewis (via Venturebeat) introducing OpenClip…
(Running scissors art swiped from the Running With Scissors poster)