On iOS text editing concepts and the keys to consistency

The video below shows an interesting concept, excellently rendered, for improving the speed and usability of text editing on iOS. Currently, to edit text in iOS, you have to poke at the screen until the right word is highlighted or the correct popup menu appears, and the drag handles to properly refine your selection. Like democracy, it sucks, but it sucks less than every other mobile implementation.

The maker of this concept video, Daniel Hooper, shows how a combination of on-keyboard gestures and shift-tapping could be used to greatly improve the speed and accuracy of text selection on iOS.

Unfortunately, text selection on iOS doesn't always enjoy the presence of a keyboard. And that's where this concept sadly breaks down for me. You can't have two different methods for selecting text, depending on whether or not the keyboard is available. Consistency is king. If you're selecting text in Safari with no keyboard, or selecting text in Notes with a keyboard, the method has to be as identical as possible or the user experience suffers.

Don't get me wrong -- improving gesture shortcuts to improve text selection would be great. It just can't be dependent on the state of the keyboard. Adding an additional layer of "expert" gesture shortcuts for when the keyboard is available is another possibility (much as the multitasking fast app switching gestures serve as "expert" shortcuts around the iPad Home screen). However, text selection already uses gestures so the current gestures would have to remain active, and it's very easy for gestures to start to collide.

All that said, I LOVE this stuff. Seeing and discussing fantastic UI and UX concepts is absolute candy. It doesn't matter if any one concept or another is perfect right out of the box, it matters that it brings attention to issues of usability, and creates discussion.

So discuss away. Would you be interested in Apple introducing text selection like this? If so, hit the via link for instructions on how you can ask Apple to do just that. Then jump into our Mobile Design Forum and let us know how you'd improve iOS text editing.

Source: @danielchooper via iDownloadBlog