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iOS 11 Drag and Drop on the iPhone

Steven Troughton-Smith played around with the first beta of iOS 11 and discovered that inter-app drag and drop – one of the marquee features for iPad this year – could in theory be used on the iPhone as well.

At WWDC, Apple explained that the same drag and drop API that powers iPad apps can be used on the iPhone to move content inside the app you’re currently using. So while on the iPad we’re going to get a wide array of gestures to transfer content between different apps, on the iPhone drag and drop will be limited to rearranging content in the current app only.

I want inter-app drag and drop to come to the iPhone eventually (it’s such a better solution than extensions and share sheets), but I could see a couple of reasons why Apple might want to wait for now.

First, giving the iPad exclusive access to the functionality is a great marketing move as Apple “relaunches” the iPad line this year. But more importantly, while the iPad supports multi-hand drag and drop, the same system would be awkward, if not downright impossible, on the iPhone’s screen. And if I had to guess, I’d say that Apple would prefer iPhone drag and drop to work well with one-handed operations – which makes me wonder if the company is waiting for a future software solution (a Shelf, a spring-loaded virtual Home button, or a new Dock) to enable more powerful drag and drop on the iPhone.