Concept Video Demos Amazing iPad Text Editing

| News

For all the talk about how the iPad is transforming the way we work, the fact remains that, for many, working on an iPad is a frustrating experience. Nearly everything users want to do takes longer and is less precise on the iPad when compared to performing the same tasks on a Mac and it all revolves around text entry and editing.

However, to our delight this evening, we discovered a great solution to this problem proposed by YouTube user danielchasehooper. In a nicely-made video, embedded below, Daniel presents an elegant and seemingly effective alternative for text selection and cursor movement on the iPad.

His solution is to use context-aware swipes on the virtual keyboard to move the cursor and select text. Whether this would work in practice is unknown — the sensitivity required to detect swipes may degrade the typing experience — but it sure looks like something that frequent writers could benefit from.

Daniel didn’t make the video just to show off a concept; he wants this feature to be considered by Apple for a future version of iOS. To that end, he recommends contacting Apple via their Bug Reporter to suggest the feature. 

It may be that Apple has already considered this method and found it to be impractical but, if they haven’t, we argue that it can’t hurt to bring it to their attention.

[via iDownloadBlog]


Lee Dronick

Or arrow keys to move the cursor. Anyway it is an interesting idea.


So each touch on the keyboard has to be checked for whether it looks like a swipe?  I’m not an expert on touch and gesture detection, but I wonder how easy that would be without introducing a delay or allowing for false swipes when a finger jiggles on a key.  Maybe it could work with the right tuning.

Things to consider with this UI:
- Discoverability.  There’s nothing on screen that lets the user realize they can swipe on the keyboard to move the cursor.
- Natural. Is it natural to swipe on the *keyboard* to move the cursor?  Isn’t it more natural to swipe on the text itself?
- I like the idea of holding shift to select.  Could be that while shift is held down the UI changes some way to indicate you can swipe, like replacing the keypad with something that looks like a track pad.

I think this leads me to a better idea:  Swipe on text moves the cursor, without requiring a tap-hold first, which would speed it up.  Hold shift, then swipe does the text selection.  Tap positions cursor, like it currently does.

This way you’re not asking Apple to pretend that the on-screen keyboard is a trackpad.  You know they won’t like that.  The whole iPad is a touch surface, so why not touch the part you’re interested in (the text) rather than trying to simulate old-style keyboard and mouse interactions?

Or arrow keys to move the cursor.

Or that, I suppose.  At least it’s still using the keyboard as a keyboard.


Yes, Steve Job’s hatred of arrow keys was really one of his great blind spots, and I hate that the iPad keyboard does not have them.


Well I’d like to know how the guy in the video did what he did.  Did he design/invent his own “context-aware swipes?”

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account