In yesterday’s tweetstorm, iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith explained that he had successfully turned on full drag and drop support on iPhone by making some changes to the iOS 11 developer beta code.

After adjusting a few settings in a preferences .plist file within the UIKit framework to make it work, he posted an iOS simulator video showing the ability to drag items between different apps on the phone.

The implementation is a bit clunky because iOS 11 does not bring the iPad’s much-enhanced Dock to iPhone, meaning your must use both hands to switch apps while dragging an object.

Normally, iOS 11 does support drag and drop on iPhone out of the box, but only within apps.

For instance, the new Files app allows you to drag a file and drop it on a folder. You can also drag a file with one finger and tap the Back button with another finger to move it to a different location. However, true inter-application drag and drop is not possible on iPhone without making changes to the iOS 11 developer beta code.

Apple has not talked about basic drag and drop support on iPhone at WWDC.

We’re certainly not expecting any miracles in subsequent betas in terms of providing feature parity for drag and drop across iPhone and iPad. For the sake of completeness, Troughton-Smith did speculate that inter-app drag and drop may be reserved for iPhone 8.

“If Apple’s gonna have an on-screen Home button on iPhone 8, it would make a lot of sense to spring-load it for drag and drop,” he wrote on Twitter.

Would full drag and drop make sense on iPhone, do you think?

  • ericesque

    “everybody will want to jailbreak to get it”

    This simply isn’t true. A few million people may jailbreak, but in the scope of things, it’s not enough to impact business decisions at Apple.

  • M_Hawke

    That’s a pretty good “clunky” emulator.

    “They just don’t think we want it.” Yeah, Apple’s track record on that is not so great. They didn’t think we wanted an iPad mini. They didn’t think we wanted bigger iPhones. They didn’t think we wanted copy, cut, and paste in the early days. Sometimes Apple just doesn’t get it.

    • A few thoughts, but first let me say that I can’t comment on the iPad mini since I don’t know the details of that.

      As for the phone, Apple did in fact think we’d want larger phones and probably back before we even did. Before Samsung even started making phablets Apple had made slabs representing iPhones of all shapes and sizes up to 7″ shortly after the launch of the original iPhone and ultimately decided that while a larger phone was nice, they had to make it thinner and lighter or it would feel too clunky in the hand and would be hard to use. So they aggressively made the phone thinner every single year until the iPhone 6 launch. Once they hit that self imposed benchmark they haven’t slimmed it down at all.

      They also realized we’d want cut copy and paste but the first iPhone was rushed. In fact some of the stories of what went on behind the scenes during that first WWDC showing are amazing as that prototype was not ready in the slightest for primetime. Some of the smaller things like cut, copy and paste just didn’t make it in on day 1 because they simply ran out of time. Interestingly enough, (as a side note) when Google scrapped their version of Android that they were getting ready to announce so that they could redesign it to compete with iPhone they built in a copy and paste feature, but it was so clunky to use that after Apple put it into iOS the next year, they scraped their implementation and redid it.

      I’m not saying Apple is perfect, but sometimes they do get it. And sometimes they have to wait just like us either due to deadlines that force them to cut features or due to limitations of technology.

    • Omkar Nagnur

      It’s just that Apple takes more time on the testing part of any feature or new prototype, so that it’s as good as possible. You just gotta chill and wait

  • Josh1991

    But Theres a share sheet for the photos app and safari for you to “share” things instead of dragging and dropping ?

    • Vasu Chawla

      +1 this

  • Sam Urban

    how exactly do u change the settings in the iOS 11 provisioning profile to allow drag and drop on iPhone?? I need to do this!!

    • Omkar Nagnur

      not provisioning profil, a preference .plist file within the raw ipsw file.

      • Sam Urban

        but how do u do that?

      • Omkar Nagnur

        No clue. I am jail broken on iOS 10 so I know how to mess around with the plist files with iFile on device, but dunno how to edit them on the raw ipsw file. I have tried extracting it once but it’s all password locked 🙁

        Btw, you don’t have to screw with those files to get drag and drop. YouTuber “iDevice help” demo’ed how to drag and drop on iPhone on the first beta, without modifying anything. The ONLY difference modifying does is that it makes the process more smooth and easy.

  • I’m going to go out on a limb an say we probably won’t get this feature for the iPhone. Apple has a commitment on the iPhone to making every interaction possible with one hand (while holding the phone in that hand). In fact I believe that the only interaction that requires two hands to pull off while holding the phone is rotating the map in apple maps.

    This drag and drop interaction however would be pretty near impossible to pull off one handed as you’d need to be able to hold onto an object, use the home button and swipe through content. If you want to copy text from one app to another, copy and paste is a far more practical one handed solution than this.

    Don’t get me wrong, if Apple puts this in I’ll use it. But given their track record I’m not expecting it from a usability standpoint.