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iPhone OS 3.0 cut, copy, and paste feature’s point of failure

os3copypastefailI want more than anything else for my new iPhone 3G S to become my new portable blogging solution. I remarked a while back that my first generation iPhone approached my ideal of a perfect portable gadget, and I was really hoping that with the addition of copy and paste in iPhone OS 3.0 software, I’d finally have an iPhone that could be used to do everything on this blog that I normally do via my computer.

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered one huge flaw with copy and paste as it’s currrently implemented on the iPhone. You cannot copy and paste text from within a very popular field: the YouTube embed code field. It’s not as narrow a problem as that though. Basically, you can only copy and paste from fields that allow you to edit the contents of the field (this is the point where the YouTube embed code fails), and even then any small field that doesn’t display the entirety of its contents within the field won’t let you select long strings of content that run outside the currently visible parts of the field. This is a design flaw in copy and paste that I hope Apple addresses.

But the problem here doesn’t stop with the copy and paste. There’s an extra set of design problems on the iPhone 3G S; it’s a flaw in Apple’s thinking about how people would want to use video. Right now, I can shoot a video anywhere, anytime with my iPhone 3G S and upload that video immediately to YouTube or email it to someone. Once I’ve uploaded the video to YouTube, if I’m a content creator and blogger (I’m both and lots of people fall under this category), the next logical step is for me to want to grab the embed code for the video and embed it into a post. Unfortunately, all links to the video from the iPhone 3G S take you to the YouTube app on the iPhone, which notably lacks any way to grab the embed code. I can share the video by emailing it, and by emailing it to myself, I can grab the URL for linking to the video in a blog post, which is useful.

However, if you try to copy and paste that URL into Mobile Safari in order to get to the field where you should be able to grab the embed code (if you could), Mobile Safari redirects you immediately back to the YouTube application on the iPhone. In order to even attempt a copy and paste of the embed code, you have to go to http://www.youtube.com in Mobile Safari, scroll to the bottom of the screen and choose “View in Desktop Mode” and then go to your account / search for the video in question. Then once you’re on the video’s page, you can set the size of the embed and do all sorts of things except copy and paste the embed code.

If someone at Apple happens to read this, please either adjust copy and paste, or add a “Copy embed code for this video” to the YouTube application itself. Preferably do both, as they both lead to more flexibility and better workflow for all of us out here in internet land who are eager to use the little machines we bought from you to make really cool stuff while on the go. Thanks!

UPDATE: Copy and paste from Flickr works fine:


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nic Treadwell 6/28/2009, 5:51 pm

    Hi i have been playing about with embedded code from you tube and found a way to do this.

    There is a web site http://www.tools4noobs.com/online_tools/youtube_xhtml/
    which will convert any youtube video url to the embedded code and allow you to copy it from your iphone into your blog or where ever, bit of a long way round but it does work. But you will not see the video on your destination site on the iphone as it won’t display it, but rest assured it is there if you check from a pc or laptop.

    Hope this helps