by Thomas Brady


Google still has major issues with text selection and editing on Android devices. The first striking problem is that there is not a consistent method of selecting text on the device. None. At all. In the browser, you long press on text to bring up your anchors, then drag and tap the center of your selection — boom, copied text. In text editing fields, however, in order to select a word you must long press on the word, wait for a contextual menu to pop up, and then select “select word” — a completely counterintuitive process. In the message app you can long press to select only the entire message, and in Google Reader? You can’t select any text at all. Even worse, Gmail has a different method for selecting text from an email you’re reading, and it’s far more obnoxious than any of the others. There, selecting text goes from being mildly annoying to downright silly. Want to grab some text out of an email? Here’s your process: hit the menu key, hit “more,” hit “select text,” and then finally drag your anchors out. Funnily enough, a little cursor appears when you start selecting — a holdover from Linux? To have this many options and discrepancies over something as simple as copy and paste should be embarrassing to Google. What it mostly is, however, is a pain to the end user.

This is a selection from Joshua Topolsky’s review of the Google Nexus S from Engadget.

As John Gruber commented, it’s hard not to remember that Apple waited until version 3.0 of iOS before including copy&paste (and, thusly, text selection). They caught all kinds of hell for it. But at least they never put anything like this steaming pile of afterthought UI into the world.

Windows Phone 7, by the way, does not include copy&paste, yet. I wonder why?

To all my friends who don’t understand why people think the iPhone is better: this is a great example. Is copy&paste a cornerstone of mobile device technology? No. Does a Sprint Evo 4G have a faster internet connection than an iPhone 4? Yes. Which one of us, though, will be yelling obscenities at our phone faster when we need to copy a phone number from an email and paste it into a text message?