Copy And Paste On Smartphones

This past weekend I discovered an Android app called Parcels, which tracks packages shipped from a variety of sources. I recently ordered something from Amazon and received e-mail confirmation that the package was shipped, so I decided to enter that information into Parcels.

To track the package I needed to enter the Amazon order number in Parcels, so I opened the confirmation e-mail in Gmail so that I can copy the order number and paste it into Parcels. What I have is a real world example of why Copy and Paste is needed on smartphones. Even if I was near a PC at the time, who wants to type in those long order and tracking number strings.

To select text in Gmail you first have to tap Menu, More, Select Text. Next, you have to slide your finger over the text that you want to select, and here lies the problem. I could not precisely select the tracking number in the e-mail message, as nothing appears on the screen to show where selection begins, and you cannot zoom the display. All you see is a pink highlight as you are selecting text, and as soon as you lift your figure the text is copied to the clipboard. I ended up selecting more text I needed and then editing that text after I pasted it in to the tracking number field in Parcels.

My point in all of this is that not only does Copy and Paste need to be on smartphones, but it needs to be usable. In my experience on the iPad, which I assume is similar on the iPhone, Copy and Paste is very usable. Android has Copy and Paste, but it is frustrating to use, which is why the changes to Copy and Paste coming in Android 2.3 are so anticipated. Microsoft not only needs to add Copy and Paste to Windows Phone 7, but since it is behind Android and iPhone, it needs to be sure Copy and Paste is usable.

The following video shows how Copy and Paste might work in Windows Phone after it is released, does it look usable?

Video courtesy of PocketNow