Here’s Why You Don’t Copy and Paste Your First iPhone

Apple introduced the first iPhone 15 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. We’re now discussing rumors about the upcoming iPhone featuring 8K video and a new screen, but it’s hard to believe once the iPhone doesn’t have copy and paste options. Now a former Apple software engineer and designer Ken Kosenda He revealed details about why there were no such features in the first iPhone.

Kocienda, who joined Apple in 2001, was one of the key engineers behind the iPhone. Prior to working on the iPhone, Kocienda was a member of the team that created Apple’s Safari web browser — which secured him a significant role in the development of Apple’s first smartphone.

Now, with the iPhone approaching its 15th anniversary on the market, the former Apple engineer has decided to share some interesting stories about how Apple built the first iPhone. one of them It includes details on why the company decided to ship its first smartphone without copy-and-paste options.

There was no time for that.

Kocienda’s short and funny explanation is that Apple engineers did not have time to apply copy and paste to the first iPhone. But of course the story goes beyond that.

According to him, the team was already busy creating the iPhone virtual keyboard and its auto-correction system. After the launch of the iPhone, Kocienda and his team finally decided to work on the copy and paste options, but it still takes some time before the feature is ready for users.

The engineer explains that he came up with the idea of ​​a “text magnifying glass” to let users know exactly where they were pointing at the text cursor, which is important for copying and pasting text. However, even with that classic default magnifying glass, the cursor ended up moving between characters after the user took their finger off the screen due to natural flickering.

Kocienda had to develop a “touch log” only for text editing. In this way, after lifting the finger off the screen, the system automatically detects the position of the user’s finger in milliseconds after the final touch, so that the cursor remains where the user really wants.

Another interesting detail about the text input system on the iPhone is that, according to a former Apple engineer, all text with patterns was originally based on WebKit. This means that every time the app used a custom font, it was showing a small web page to display the text. When text fields are not in edit mode, they display a static image of their contents – possibly to save CPU, RAM, and battery.

Copy and paste options were introduced as part of iPhone OS 3.0 in 2009, which came preinstalled by default on the iPhone 3GS. Apple even created a TV ad highlighting the new feature at the time.

More stories on the first iPhone

Kocienda also shared some other tidbits about developing the first iPhone. For example, the iPhone lacked true multitasking not only due to low RAM but also due to lack of virtual memory. Engineers had to create a system known as “jetsam” to force the iPhone to run one app at a time, and end other background processes automatically to avoid performance issues.

Since touch screen devices weren’t quite as popular and lacked haptic feedback, the iPhone team implemented a larger virtual area than the buttons displayed on the interface. As such, the iPhone recognizes touches even when the user does not accurately touch the button on the screen.

This system was also important to the keyboard’s autocorrect feature, since it identifies the characters surrounding the character the user clicks to replace the misspelled word with the correct one.

Kocienda also explains that users’ perception of where their fingers are touching differs from where the finger actually touches, and the system had to be prepared for that.

Those interested in learning more about the iPhone development process should read Kocienda’s book, “The Creative Choice: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs.”

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