Apple is too strict with copy and paste in iOS 16

An image of an iPhone displaying the new iOS 16 permission prompt to paste from another app.
Where is my “always allow” option, Apple? | Photo by Chris Welch/MovieBeat

Since using iOS 16 so far, I’ve generally been very happy with the new features and improvements. The customizable lock screen is fun. Removing the background from images just by tapping on the subject of an image still hasn’t aged. But just days after rolling out the new software, I’ve already found my biggest frustration: iOS now asks if it’s okay to paste an item from one app to another. Permanently. Again and again.

There must be a better solution than this.

I understand it Why behind the new prompt. Your iPhone’s clipboard often contains sensitive data – passwords, personal photos, two-factor passcodes, and more. Apps probably skim through this information more often than any of us realize. And this is another example of Apple living up to its privacy mantra: ask people in plain language if they want to allow apps to access their information. Ask them repeatedly.

But the new prompt adds friction where it didn’t exist before. This makes copying and pasting inherently less transparent. For example, if I cut out the subject of an image in Photos, and copy and paste it into text in Messages, I get hit with the permission popup. Everytime. The same goes for pasting something into Notes.

A screenshot of the message
Screenshot: Chris Welch/MovieBeat
I shouldn’t have to approve of all this. Single. time.

These are basic iPhone apps, and while it’s appropriate that Apple enforces its rules universally, I also find myself thinking in frustration, “Yeah, sure you can paste this image in a message. Why wouldn’t it be? Enough already.” We’re talking about a fundamental and very common flow of action, and now there’s a stumbling block in the middle.

The goal of preventing apps from spying on your clipboard is reasonable. But surely it’s possible for Apple to include “always allow” among the choices so people don’t have to constantly see that screen. Or the company could add a “sticker” toggle to each app’s privacy settings, the same way it does for location, notifications, background data, and more. just give us some means of establishing the permanence of our copy-paste preferences.

The popup happens so frequently that I almost wonder if it’s a bug and not the intended behavior. And sometimes, like when pasting in Slack, it doesn’t show up at all. Nothing has changed so far in the early betas of iOS 16.1, but I hope Apple refines this interaction as soon as possible.

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