August 06, 2009, 12:34 AM — The iPhone's cut-and-paste functionality was one of the most long-awaited features of iPhone OS 3.0. Tech commentators everywhere had been foaming for months that Apple must have cut and paste or dire things would result. But I have to say that, while I'm not such a cultist that I don't see room for improvement in the phone, this was never that high on my list of must-haves. I only ever really wanted it in a few fairly specialized situations: when I wanted to text or e-mail someone a URL, say, or when the usually reliable data detector failed to recognize a phone number as such and I wanted to paste it into keypad dialer. I wasn't against cut and paste, mind you, but I wasn't waiting for it with bated breath either.
But what I found when I downloaded iPhone OS 3.0 was that cut-and-paste actually made my iPhone text experience more irritating. I may not be the sort of person who wants to move text from one app to another very often, but I am apparently the sort of person who like to go back into a sentence I've already written and muck around in it a bit. (Comes with being a professional writer, I guess; you get so attached to your own prose that you want it to look good even in an SMS message.) But once cut-and-paste came out, this suddenly became a chore; trying to drop the cursor into mid-sentence often selected the nearest word instead, or sometimes the whole sentence, depending on the app (and there were subtle differences from app to app). Oh, and you still couldn't paste a phone number into the dialer.
I had been meaning for a while to write a blog post about this on a slow Apple news day, and today seemed slow enough (except for an iPhone user revolt that's going unnoticed by anyone but obsessive tech insiders), so I got out my iPhone and my digital camera in an attempt to document my irritation. But lo and behold, every time I tried to reproduce the problem, the cursor acted exactly the way I wanted it to (except that, in the interest of documenting the problem, I didn't want it to act the way I wanted it to, if you follow).
So, faithful readers: what's the story? The only thing I've done that might have caused a change is upgrade to iPhone OS 3.0.1, which as far as I know only patched the nasty security hole that would have allowed attackers to take over the phone via a text message. Did it secretly improve the cut-and-paste experience as well? Or have my fingers just gotten better at the trick?