Copy and Paste comes to iPhone

Openclip framework adds Copy and Paste without violating the iPhone SDK agreement

A college student has developed an open source framework that allows cross-application Copy and Paste on the iPhone.

Zac White says his Open Clip framework uses a shared space on the iPhone that can be accessed by applications to enable Copy and Paste – without falling foul of the iPhone SDK agreement.

Apple forbids applications from running in the background because it would take up too much of the iPhone’s resources.
Also, developers are not allowed to create plug-ins that make their apps work with other apps on the iPhone.

However, when a developer adds the OpenClip framework to an iPhone app, that app can then access the common area and write to it, and read from it, thereby enabling copy and paste between participating apps.

In an interview with Geek Brief’s Cali Lewis, White explained that OpenClip is a way for developers to include system wide Copy and
Paste on the iPhone.

The Oklahoma University student has started a non-profit, open-source community project for OpenClip.
“It’s a device that allows apps to talk to each other,” he said. “It’s a very extensible way to get data between applications.”

A key element is for as many apps to implement the OpenClip framework – since the wider the participation, the more apps users can Copy and Paste between.

White suggests iPhone users email app developers about the advantages of OpenClip and asks app developers to show their participation by placing the OpenClip badge on their websites.

He stressed that the framework created is not on a jailbreak phone and fully complied with Apple’s SDK agreement.

In the interview with Geek Brief, White explains how he met iPhone App Store developer Juviwhale (creator of the MagicPad app) at iPhone Dev Camp, where the OpenClip framework was developed as a “weekend hack”.

He effectively gave MagicPad’s localized cut/copy/paste cross-application functionality with the open-source OpenClip framework.
It uses the API used by Apple on OS X to allow developers to easily implement OpenClip with the minimum of coding.

Zac White

White explains that the biggest factor was making it easy for developers to integrate it into their  apps, including having the documentation written for the API on

Another element he considered was ease of transition for developers and users when Apple, finally, implements its own Copy and Paste. By adopting the API used on OS X, White expects a future transition to be “very easy”.

He does admit that OpenClip has some limitations. “It is completely possible that apps that use this wouldn’t get on the App Store. Not for any real reason other than it will eventually step on Apple’s toes,” he said.

“It is also conceivable that the technology this is built on will break in the future. The hope is that the update that breaks this also brings copy and paste support.

Greg “Joz” Joswiak, Apple’s head of iPod and iPhone marketing has previously stated that cut, copy, and paste is on the future feature list.

But his view that the function is not a “priority” is not shared by many users.
Please let us know what you think about the OpenClip development and how – if at all – Apple will respond to it.

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