Making text editing faster and easier on the iPad


Daniel Hooper made the above demo to show how text editing could be made much faster and more efficient on the iPad.

The iPad is a good device for writing text (I start a lot of the posts that appear here on the iPad), but it’s not great for editing text. It’s much slower than a standard keyboard and mouse setup for editing text, especially for the rearranging of text, as Hooper points out:

Tapping directly on text to move the cursor works well for small portions of text, but we don’t just write short portions of text anymore! When performing lots of edits in larger documents the direct interaction metaphor falls apart for cursor control. Even short portions of text can be painful to edit when you need to move the cursor to a precise location. Would you ever want to write a document on your computer without using the arrow keys? This is the reality iPad users face because they do not have the equivalent of arrow keys. There is a better way.

I think it would be difficult to write a long paper or article on the iPad because text selection is so slow to do, and a large part of writing is figuring out where the pieces fit.

That’s a shame because I do like to use my iPad to edit and proofread longer posts that I start on my computer, and I know the editing process could be even better. There is just something about editing writing on a separate device in a different atmosphere. I might do the bulk of my writing at my desk in my office, but I really like to sit back and relax on the couch with the iPad for editing.

The above prototype shows how Apple could make editing text much faster. I think Apple’s current setup should stay, but they should add something similar to what this video is showing for power users. Apple”s current text editing capabilities are very obvious, which is important, but they are too slow for power users.

Offering provisions for both power users and regular users is what Apple has been doing for years with OS X. It’s about time we started seeing the same with iOS.