Microsoft Shows Apple How Multitouch Copy-And-Paste Is Done

Microsoft Shows Apple How Multitouch Copy-And-Paste Is Done

Apple famously solved the copy-and-paste touchscreen challenge with their innovative hold-and-drag-corners approach first introduced in iOS 3.0, but is there a better way? Microsoft thinks so. They think they’ve got an even better way to copy text in the latest version of their Bing for iPad app. It’s called the lasso.

Here’s how it works. Instead of just tapping, holding and dragging the corners of a text selection box around the selection you want to copy, you just use your finger to draw a circle around the words you want to make your search term.

That’s it. It’s that easy, and as Bing manager Tony Chou notes, it’s the difference between up to nine steps for Apple’s version to just one, fluid motion.

I love it. Not enough to get me to use Bing, but still. There must be a reason why Apple opted to not use the “just draw a shape around the words you want to highlight” approach to copy-paste, but I can’t for the life of me think of why that is. Anyone out there got any good ideas?

[via the Mac Observer]

  • hurley999jb

    My guess is the lasso on a small screen can probably be inaccurate – causing lots of frustration. Or maybe Ballmer got his act together and is actually innovating? (doubtful).

  • brandonmartinez

    1.) How do you select multiple lines?
    2.) If you have an incorrect shape/selection, can you then refine it with handles?
    3.) What if you don’t want to search with it, and you just want to select it? Can you get a popup of actions?

  • •IÑ??Е™

    the ipad wasnt released when apple implemented copy and paste in their ios devices and um sure it would be quite the aggravation trying to draw a circle around a word on a iphone or itouch screen and they why havent implemented it into the ipad os is because they would have to rewrite the part if not alot of the os to get it system wide….. so they sticking with what works and not spending the extra time or money to change anything they dont have to at this present moment in time…………

  • Andi

    it looks great for simple selections. Try selecting the end of one line and the beginning of another with one circle.  

  • Brandon M

    “just draw a shape around the words you want to highlight”

    Yeah… maybe is because my finger is far bigger than the words I’m trying to highlight… Apple’s way is more precise and clean. 

  • Sário Nunes

    And how about accuracy and being able to re-select? drawing a circle on a smart phone will quite an time saver, or not. 

    Pratical or not, Apple’s approach to this matter seems the best one so far. :)

    This “lasso” technic should work well on Tablets, not for smart phones

  • jeanlouisnguyen

    As many have pointed out, it’s a great feature for one or several words grouped together, but not something you would use for a paragraph or a sentence spanning multiple lines. I don’t think it’s that revolutionary, and definitely not something that will pull me away from Google search.

  • Mike Rathjen

    I don’t care what method is used as long as it doesn’t “auto-snap” from the correct portion that I successfully selected into an incorrect portion that it thinks I meant to have selected.

  • Jordan Clay

    I like,  Not just the copy/paste function of WP7, but that phone manufacturer’s are really stepping up there game and bringing their A Game.  I have been using iOS 5 for a couple weeks now and it feels as if it is just a maintenance update to correct everything that wasn’t up to world-class standards

  • causticmango

    So, I downloaded the update and tried it on my iPad. I think I see why Apple didn’t do it this way: It doesn’t work for sh*t. It’s very imprecise even to select a single word or phrase often taking several tries to get it to register. It is completely useless for anything than wraps to a new line.

    Nice trolling …

  • dagamer34

    Sure, they didn’t think of it first.

  • Bert Vanderveen

    I am on am Mac. Highlighting a word or phrase on a webpage and hitting Command-Option-D results in a pop-up with search results for that word and/or phrase.
    So what is MS showing us? How to copy an existing concept with a more childish approach?
    Sure…

  • Brian Fløe

    So try lassoing your way around a sentence that ends and begins one the next line …
    Yeah, Microsoft “did it again” ;)
    This goes to MyAppleSpace com for a good laugh.

  • Brian Fløe

    So try lassoing your way around a sentence that ends and begins one the next line …
    Yeah, Microsoft “did it again” ;)
    This goes to MyAppleSpace com for a good laugh.

  • Dickusmagnus

    Maybe, but you have to be impressed by the first possibly original development at Microsoft in many years. Maybe someone else thought of it, but I’m sure Microsoft tied it up legally. I hope Apple can get the patent and use it as a native option in iOS.

  • Dickusmagnus

    Probably not, but encourage them. They’re on a roll.

  • Wayne_Luke

    They used drag and select because all the words might not be displayed on the screen. The select and drag method allows you to scroll the screen mid-selection.

    A lasso might be good for a couple of words for a search but it doesn’t help copying and pasting sentences or even a couple of paragraphs. I guess Microsoft doesn’t think people will do actual work on a tablet. This is why they will fail.

  • Dayne Linx

    I agree Brandon. Think about the horizontal spacing between lines of text. The space will have to wider than normal so you do not select text above and below what you want and it also have to be consistent throughout the whole OS.

  • Dayne Linx

    I agree Brandon. Think about the horizontal spacing between lines of text. The space will have to wider than normal so you do not select text above and below what you want and it also have to be consistent throughout the whole OS.

  • Robert Norris Hills

    No1 else had done it for apple to copy yet? 

  • ThaWeaver

    Funny they did it on their iPad app and not on Windows Phone 7.  Maybe its only possible on Apple devices.  Also changing from Apple standards is a Big No No from a user experience standpoint.

  • freediverx

    First, not having tried it myself, I can’t say whether Microsoft’s solution works well or not. If it does, then good for them. 

    One question that comes to mind is how the device knows whether I’m drawing a selection circle or scrolling/moving the page content. Another question is how does the user modify the selection to add or remove words.

    Kinda have to see this one in real life before criticizing or praising it.

    As for the author’s closing question, why must we assume that Apple thought of and discarded this solution? It’s entirely possible (though atypical) that the Microsoft guys came up with a design solution on their own that never occurred to Apple.

  • davidk

    As others have pointed out it fails to work for more general text selection scenarios AND requires a dedicated button to invoke the behavior. 

    It works really well for the dedicated scenario of the Bing app, it would work really poorly as a general text selection method.

  • Brandon M

    Well… The problem is not that they don’t have original develpments… The problem is that every little thing, in all of their OSs, crash. and then… BLUE SCREEN. 

  • travisbrowny

    Haven’t had a blue screen or crash on Windows 7 since even before it was officially released. I’m not in the minority. Get with the times. :)

  • martinberoiz

    Check the video in the link provided, you don’t circle the word with your finger, you swipe across the word, then Bing draws a circle around it and searches for it. I’m not too excited for this new feature, although it might be good.

  • dale2000

    It’s only faster because it already has an action associated with the gesture.  In fact, it takes longer because you have to click the lasso button FIRST, THEN draw the circle. 

  • aramishero

    This is not a good idea… Apple’s way is done right…

  • KateMacVerde

    Sadly, not all of us can run Windows 7 (in my case, at work, I don’t let that sh*t in my house). I was lucky enough to endure 12 BSODs in 1 day on my work computer running XP. Get with the times, indeed.

  • Mike Retondo

    It’s because you can’t select a group of words that would look like the following X’s.

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • gareth edwards

    looking at the video and ignoring the horrible presentation I think it’s great for single terms.  It’s not a ‘one click’ solution as they state as you have to click the Bing lasso button but for a 2 part process that then goes off to search from the selection I do like it. That said, it’s very limiting. A one trick pony but a good one.

  • Christopher Lee

    am i the only one who hasn’t been able to get the lasso to work? it just makes a bloop at me and does nothing

  • Guest

    Your workpalce should get with the times and upgrade from that 10 year old operating system. That way, you won’t have to endure ANY BSODs.

  • travisbrowny

    Your workpalce should get with the times and upgrade from that 10 year old operating system. ;) That way, you won’t have to endure ANY BSODs. The OS will run smoothly even if the hardware is archaic; it’s worth the boost in productivity. My workpalce upgraded about a year and a half ago, but before that I completely dreaded using Windows XP, so I feel your pain. I absolutely love Mac OSX, but Windows 7 has been surprisingly great for the time I’ve been using it.

  • KateMacVerde

    You would think. We are a software company and all of our customers are still using XP. We haven’t updated our software to 7 because someone has to buy it. But Customers won’t upgrade unless we support it. It’s a vicious circle.

  • RalphF

    Who are your customers…Win7 is everywhere I look these days.  In short, it’s a hit and even if it wasn’t, XP is end of life support soon.

  • RalphF

    P.S.  You can drive a truck through the security holes in a 10 year old operating system.  There is only so much patching can accomplish.  I know it’s not your choice but your IT department, but don’t upgrade at your own risk.

  • Emmanuel Restakis

    I use 2 Macs (and I love them) at home but 2 PCs with Windows 7 at work. They haven’t crashed. Ever. My Macbook has crashed twice (Grey screen anyone?). The Blue Screen joke is getting old…

  • J Scott Anderson

    Actually, I think you are in the minority. I know many people that work in everything from small business with less than 10 Windows 7 machines to little concerns like Dell (I think they still use Windows 7 there   ;-)   ). And I get many, many comments about blue screens.

  • nthnm

    Maybe this would work on a tablet, but I think this will be useless on phone screens. They are much to small to utilize something like this.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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