Cale Byers

Impossible Text Selection in iOS

November 7, 2017

Apple's text selection is awful. I hate trying to select text on my iPhone. It's literally impossible sometimes.

When I'm talking into my notes, sometimes words are underlined in blue to indicate alternatives (because Siri sucks and doesn't know what you're saying). But when you try to click those words to choose a different word, it's impossible. It literally does not work, and this is all inside of purely Apple software. So given that we can't even trust their own platform, I'm not surprised that it's also impossible for the Internet and webpages.

In some cases, it's because moron web devs use tricks and hacks to mess with the DOM or whatever shit they use to render pages.

So my phone will be struggling to make sense of the text position on the page or something like that. And then selecting a snippet of text somehow leads to the whole paragraph being selected. My text selection will float on the top, and then the webpage will scroll to a different position. So the text selection isn't bound to the actual text, it's bound to some imaginary position on the page. WTF??? No!

Or you literally cannot select anything. And when you release your finger–oh shit–you actually were on a hyperlink or some single page app that takes you somewhere else. Your content vanishes, and you get sucked along into some new page.

Trying to open a link on Amazon is similarly a nightmare. The Amazon front-end webdevs have hijacked the webpage, because apparently we don't need to have control over page behavior. effffff you! I actually canceled my Amazon prime membership recently, and you should consider cancelling your Amazon membership, too. It wasn't because of their frustrating website, though. It's because there are some major problems with Amazon.

Between Apple's handcuffs and inflexibility and YouTube's evil JS, it's now impossible to watch videos in the background or with your phone turned off. Unless of course you buy YouTube Red. I actually did in the summer for a few months, because I was banging like 15-20 hours of YT a day. SAD! So if you have nothing going on with your life, YT Red is a good deal for avoiding ads and whatnot.

But the irritating thing about YT Red is that it's sold as a way to avoid advertising. But they still connect to the doubleclick domains and all that other garbage, even when you pay them to not do so. And the NYTimes does the same. You shouldn't be paying and seeing ads at the same time. Cable is the worst. I don't even watch TV anymore. So stupid and boring. It makes me feel like my mind is being shut off.

Anyway, back to the YT block of controlling your video playback. It was a gradual transition. First, you had to try using the media control center to resume the video outside of Safari. And then you could turn off your screen and save battery. Or you could use other apps.

Then it got to the point where you could only use Safari. You could open a video in one tab, and then you could read your email or mindlessly scroll through social media tabs.

But now that privilege is also gone. You cannot watch a video without being on the tab in safari. And you have to leave your screen on, with your phone unlocked.

But I figured out how to watch YouTube videos with your screen off, bypassing those evil restrictions.

Back to the text selection: what the hell, Apple?!?? Just select the damn text! Who cares if web devs are making weird choices and using dumbass frontend frameworks?

You put the text on my screen

I touched the text.

So just copy it where my finger begins and ends. That simple!

Don't jump to the next line!

Don't jump to the whole paragraph or section!

Just select the damn text, Apple.

And not surprisingly, the original CryPhone didn't have copy/paste (YouTube Video). This all comes back to not giving users FULL control over their devices behavior and communication. We should be able to lie about GPS, battery info, user agent, etc. It should be easy! WTF!