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iOS 11 brought a big change to the iPad. It’s almost like Apple’s tablet has been reborn. The new Dock makes it really easy to switch between apps, while Split View multitasking finally makes sense. But what takes the cake is the addition of drag and drop apps.
This seemingly simple feature removes some of the biggest frustrations we had with iPad and takes it closer to being a “real” computer. The ability to quickly and easily transfer data from one app to another is a huge productivity booster.
How Drag and Drop Apps Work in iOS 11
Drag and Drop in iOS 11 is an evolution of the desktop functionality. In the PC world, all you have is a single pointer. On the iPad, you can use all of your fingers. This makes for some very interesting use cases. First of all, you can hold something with one finger while you’re picking up something else or navigating around.
There are three main parts of the drag and drop interaction on iOS 11:
- Pick: Tap and hold on any element (text or media) and you’ll see it lift up. This means you can pick this content up.
- Drag: Once the content is hovering, move your finger and you’ll notice that it’s now docked to where your finger is. You can use another finger to pick multiple elements and they’ll all join the deck below your finger.
- Drop: Navigate to the other app or the screen where you want to send the media to and just release your finger to transfer the content.
Use a Shelf App Like Gladys
The concept of an always-there shelf in iOS came from Federico Viticci’s iOS 11 concept. While that wish didn’t come true, the new implementation of the Slide Over feature makes a version of the Shelf possible.
When you’re working in multiple apps, it doesn’t make sense to keep switching apps to copy and paste individual content over and over again. Instead, if there was something like a shelf, you could add drag in content to the shelf and then pick it off at any later point.
There are multiple shelf apps on the App Store but you should start with Gladys.
Start by putting Gladys in Slide Over mode. Open an app, then swipe up to see the Dock (or search in Spotlight) and drag the Gladys app over the app that’s currently open. Gladys will open in a floating window on the right. Swipe on the handle at the top to push it off the screen.
Tap and hold on something to select it (you can pick up multiple items), then swipe in from the right edge to bring back Gladys. Drop the files on the Gladys app area. The next time you slide in Gladys, your files will be all there. Tap and hold to select, drag them out and drop them in the app you want.
iOS 11 Files App
The new Files app in iOS 11 is a playground for drag and drop. You can pick up any file or folder, select multiple files, and drop it into another folder with ease. You can also drag items to the Favorites section in the sidebar. Drag files on to any tag in the sidebar to automatically assign it.
Apple Notes is great but Bear is better. If you’re looking for a more feature rich alternative to Apple’s note-taking app, you should consider adopting Bear. It’s built for the modern iOS and macOS ecosystem and it gets the fundamentals right.
The app offers minimal writing environment, with all the helpful formatting and text manipulation features you’d expect from a modern note taking app (and, of course, it supports Markdown).
Chief among which is Bear’s own take on iOS 11’s drag and drop features. The simple stuff works. You can drag in any text, image or link into Bear and it will show up in the note with a rich preview.
But you can do a lot more with drag and drop right inside Bear. When you select a note (or multiple notes), a new Bear Bar will show up at the bottom. Drop them on the Bear Bar and you’ll get a list of actions you can choose from. Trash the notes, move them, pin them or export them in any format of your choice.
1Password is the best password management app for iOS and macOS. Unlike other password management services, you can choose to store the encrypted vault file locally or on your personal cloud storage account. This severely reduces the risk of online hacks.
1Password on iPad supports the new Slide Over view and drag and drop. The next time you need to enter a password in an app or a website, bring over 1Password the Slide Over view, find the login, and just drag and drop the username and password in the relative fields. The beautiful thing about this interaction is that it works everywhere.
Zipped is a really cool archiving utility that fills in the gap left open by the Files app. You can use it along with the Files app to quickly zip and unzip files and folders. The app is interface free and works primarily using drag and drop.
Open the app in Split View next to the Files app. Select multiple files and drop them over at the Zipped app. The app will ask you where you want the archive to show up. Select the location in the Files app and in a couple of seconds the zipped file will show up. To unzip a file, just drag it over to the Zipped app to start the process.
Chances are, your favorite email app has been updated to support drag and drop. Spark, our favorite iOS email app supports both importing and exporting files as attachments using drag and drop.
In the default Mail app, you can drag in images, media, and more. In fact, if you drag in multiple files over the compose window, Mail app will automatically zip the files for you and add it as an attachment.
Doesn’t matter if you’re in the Apple camp, Google camp or the Microsoft camp, you can use drag and drop between all the classic productivity apps.
Apple’s iWork suite (Numbers, Pages, Keynote), Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Google’s trio of productivity apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides) all support drag and drop on the iPad. You can now easily move around objects and images in a presentation app or text in a word processor.
Many More Drag and Drop Apps
There are a lot more apps which now support drag and drop. While they might not all have a special implementation of the feature, the fact that most of the popular task management, image editing, and text editing apps have the option of drag and drop is itself amazing.
It means that if you’re using one of the following apps in your day to day life, you can just take the drag and drop feature for granted. And for a new technology, there’s no better feeling.
- Affinity Photo
- GoodNotes 4
- Google Chrome
- Things 3
What are your favorite productivity apps for iPad? Do they support drag and drop yet? Share with us in the comments below.