Almost 12 years ago, a young developer uploaded a prototype of a new way of using the iPad keyboard and it quickly became the most requested feature Apple developers had ever seen.
On iPads and iPhones, you can hold down the space bar and navigate or highlight text by simply flicking across, something you would previously have to hover over and highlight. This is a quicker and more efficient way of manipulating text. Upon seeing praise for this feature, @DanielcHooper shared an anecdote about his invention of the prototype and his time spent working at Apple.
The prototype video was made before he worked for Apple. When he joined, he found out, via Radar, Apple’s internal bug tracker, that it had been the most requested feature the iOS keyboard team had ever seen. He also revealed he didn’t receive a bonus for his work as it had been done before his time at Apple.
A software legacy
Apple didn’t give me a bonus for inventing the cursor gesture; I made the prototype before they hired me: https://t.co/Z56AgCaSeF The iOS keyboard team called me and said my video resulted in the most duped feature request in the history of Apple’s bug tracker, Radar. https://t.co/HW5Gcnom8QJanuary 3, 2024
Though Hooper made the prototype, he did not work on the implementation of the tech as he was on the Photos team at the time. There are other implementations of a similar function like Android’s Gboard and SwipeSelection, both of which were pointed out to have launched after this video went viral on May 2, 2012. Kyle Howells, the inventor of SwipeSelection later corroborated this story.
The original video prototype is a little different from what we have now as it didn’t use the space bar, opting to work on the shift button. As well as this, being able to drag your cursor could be done anywhere on the keyboard, which wouldn’t work now due to the existence of Slide to Type.
Though Hooper may not have been in the team directly involved with implementing the tech, his idea went on to inspire not only Apple developers but plenty of others and it would likely not exist today without him.