One of the most anticipated capabilities in the forthcoming iPhone OS 3.0 software update is the cut-and-paste function. If you find yourself frequently wishing you could easily cut-and-paste text from the Web or contact information, then you might find it worthwhile to invest a few bucks in iClipboard, a $2 utility from Xtremize Software that works pretty much as advertised, though it is severely hamstrung by the current iPhone OS.
Using iClipboard, you can copy from the Web and your contacts, as well as your Wi-Fi address and device ID. Note that you can’t copy from Mail, though the app’s developer hopes to add that capability in the future. You can paste information to the web, Mail, and Maps.
To use iClipboard for cutting and pasting to and from the Web, you must use the app’s built-in Web browser. Because there’s no way to import bookmarks from Safari into the iClipboard browser, you need to know where you’re going. Once you get there, you have to tap an Enable Copy button on the navigation bar on the top right hand side of your screen, place your finger where you want to begin copying, drag to where you want to end copying, then tap a different Copy button. At that point, a menu pops up on your screen providing you with the options to Paste to Web, Paste to Mail, Paste to Maps, or Cancel.
If you click on Paste to Mail, iClipboard closes, opens the iPhone’s Mail application, and pastes the selected text in the body of a new e-mail message. If you click on Paste to Web, the browser then opens up a (mostly) blank screen, with a URL entry field. You can then navigate to where you want to paste (say, Twitter), and tap to paste. The key, again, is that you’ve got to know where you want to go. It’s a laborious process. Copying to e-mail, in comparison, works quickly and consistently.
But the consistency comes at a price. By default, all items copied to e-mail are automatically placed in the text field, so you can’t, for example, pull an e-mail address from the Web and paste it in the To field of the Mail app or copy a headline to the Subject field. And if you want to take advantage of iClipboard’s multi-clipboard capability (the app automatically saves your last 10 clips), you must paste the text, save your e-mail, quit the Mail app, open iClipboard again, choose the next clip, and so on. It gets the job done, but it’s, well, work.
Essentially, iClipboard is a workaround, and for the most part, it functions as advertised. However, the built-in Web browser only works in portrait mode. And a much more serious limitation is that you can’t copy large blocks of text, because the browser doesn’t automatically scroll when your finger reaches the bottom of the screen.
In addition to the functions detailed above, iClipboard also includes the ability to copy your Wi-Fi Address and Device ID, and the ability to copy to the Maps app. A very nice feature in iClipboard is a built-in editor that enables you to change any clip.
In the short term—until OS 3.0 is released— iClipboard could prove a useful utility for saving or Tweeting short text snippets. And what happens after the 3.0 release, which could come as soon as next week? Xtremize says it’s working on a post-3.0 version that will enhance iPhone 3.0’s copy-and-paste capabilities. The impressive functions that enable you to save multiple clips and edit them in the current version suggest that iClipboard’s next act is worth watching for.
iClipboard is compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch and requires the iPhone OS 2.1 or later.
[Jeff Merron is a freelance writer and editor living in North Carolina.]