Tyype, a new ultra-simple text-editing app for the iPad, could point the way to better text manipulation in iOS 6, due to be announced today at Apple’s WWDC in San Francisco. And while we don’t think for a moment that Tyype’s gestures will make actually be in the new OS, it certainly shows that not only is Apple’s way not the sole way to do things, it isn’t even the best way.
Tyype uses gestures in the text field itself to move the insertion point and to select text. You can also pinch-to-zoom and use a two-finger double tap to select whole paragraphs, but this works in other apps too.
To use the app (which is iPad only), you just type using the on-screen keyboard or an external USB or Bluetooth hardware keyboard. There is an extra row of keys on screen with left and right cursor arrows, undo/redo and cut/copy/paste.
But the meat is in the gestures. To move the insertion point through the text, just swipe with one finger, and the blinking pipe will move in the direction of your digit. It’s very accurate, and beats Apple’s method as you don’t have to put your finger over the text you’re selecting.
Use three fingers to do the same thing, only the cursor moves faster. Swiping with two fingers will highlight text in the direction you begin to swipe, and deselect when you switch directions. It’s actually very intuitive.
The trouble is, these gestures are a little glitchy. Three finger swipes sometimes cause a zoom, and the cursor can jump half a line unexpectedly. The app is also pretty bare-bones, with no way to even save a file, let alone send it to Dropbox or iCloud (the only way to get text out is via e-mail or copying).
Still, the idea itself is a very interesting one. I do almost all my writing on the iPad these days, and the only really annoying thing when I’m not using an external keyboard is text manipulation. At the very least Apple should make the cursor move one space left or right when tapping in the margins, to help correct inaccurate taps, but there could be many more improvements. And that’s before I even get started on rich text editing.