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Monday, August 25, 2008, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

iPhone Software 2.1 to stifle open source copy-and-paste effort

An open source project aimed at bringing universal copy-and-paste support to Apple's iPhone has hit a major roadblock due to security-related changes in the next version of iPhone software, according to the group's organizers.

The initiative, dubbed OpenClip, was conceived by student developer Zac White earlier this month after an Apple executive remarked that copy-and-paste functionality on the iPhone remains a low priority. Many iPhone users worldwide don't agree with that stance, however, and often single out a lack of the feature as one of the handset's most glaring omissions.

To address the problem, OpenClip sought to develop an source framework that developers could use as a means of implementing the Cocoa-based NSPasteboard functionality into their apps, without violating the terms of Apple's iPhone Software Developers Kit.

Essentially, the framework made it easy for iPhone developers to utilizes a shared space on the iPhone, allowing any application that used the new framework to read and write data from the common area, thereby allowing copy-and-paste between participating apps. A video demonstrating the concept can be seen below.

Developers of nearly a dozen applications almost immediately vouched support for framework. Future versions of Twittelator, MobileChat, and MagicPad were listed on the OpenClip website among the applications that would eventually see support for the unofficial copy-and-paste framework. But not if it runs counter to Apple's plans to plug perceived security holes in the iPhone's software.

On Friday, White updated the OpenClip website, noting that changes discovered in beta 4 of the upcoming iPhone Software 2.1 break his copy-and-paste concept because the new software no longer allows apps to access to the common storage area of other apps.



White's not throwing in the towel just yet, however, arguing that "though Apple is killing the concept behind the current OpenClip, that doesn't mean we can't change the concept." His new idea proposals include a share clipboard that could be stored in an Address Book card or even on a remote server.

"The address book version, would have to write a very weird looking address book card to your address book. It would probably get synced and it would show up on your Mac or PC or even MobileMe. I'm not too cracked up about that, but I would be interested to know what users think of that," he wrote. "The network solution is impossible for Apple to shut down, but it is no easy task."