I couldn’t agree more with all the suggestions proposed by Matt Birchler, who envisions a more flexible permission flow for clipboard access on iOS that is entirely in line with Apple’s current privacy prompts for other personal data.
Apple could even hide the “always allow…” option until the user had allowed an app to see the clipboard like 5 times in a row. That would avoid giving full access to apps that you don’t want to give it to, and it even helps keep the number of apps with this always access down. After saying “allow paste” in Parcel 100+ times in the past few years and never hitting no, it might be safe to let me just say “always allow” at this point, but maybe an app where I paste once in a blue moon doesn’t need it.
They could go the other way as well: if you deny an app a few times in a row, there could be a new option the next time that asks if you want to block this app from the clipboard forever.
And as they’ve done recently with location, photos, and calendar access, it could make sense to occasionally show an alert that tells the user that this app has access to your clipboard and how often it’s used that access in the last X days.
I strongly disliked the redesigned clipboard prompts in the first version of iOS 16 (a perfect example of user experience dictated by security engineers rather than designers at Apple), and I was relieved when the company improved the system with per-app clipboard settings in 16.1. Still, these clipboard prompts feel antiquated, user-hostile, and not intelligent at all. For starters, they should be consistent – like Matt suggests – with Apple’s other privacy prompts. Second, they should learn from user habits in terms of granting access or reminding people to review their apps with clipboard access.
Third, I can’t believe it’s still not possible for third-party developers to make a proper clipboard manager for iOS and iPadOS – a software category that continues to thrive on macOS. I was writing about this stuff 13 (!) years ago, and it’s wild that nothing has changed.