Apple is too strict with copy and paste in iOS 16

In my time using iOS 16 so far, I’ve generally been very pleased with the new features and improvements. The customizable lock screen is fun. Removing the background of images just by holding down on a picture’s subject still hasn’t gotten old. But only a few days after the new software rolled out, I’ve already found my biggest frustration: iOS now asks if it’s okay to paste an item from one app to another. Constantly. Over and over and over again.

There’s got to be a better solution than this.

I understand the why behind the new prompt. Your iPhone’s clipboard often contains sensitive data — passwords, personal photos, two-factor passcodes, and so on. Apps likely skim this information more often than any of us realize. And this is another example of Apple abiding by its mantra on privacy: ask people in plain English if they want to allow apps to access their information. Ask them repeatedly.

But the new prompt is adding friction where it never existed before. It’s making copy and paste inherently less seamless. For example, if I cut out the subject of an image in Photos, copy it, and go to paste it into a text in Messages, I get hit with the permission dialog. Every time. Same goes for pasting something into Notes.

A screenshot of the “do you want to allow this?” paste prompt in iOS 16.

I shouldn’t have to approve this every. single. time.

Screenshot: Chris Welch / The Verge

These are core iPhone applications, and while it’s appropriate that Apple applies its rules universally, I also find myself thinking in frustration, “Yes, of course it’s okay for you to paste this picture into a message. Why wouldn’t it be? Enough already.” We’re talking about a fundamental, very common action flow, and now there’s a hurdle in the middle. Why is Apple double checking such direct user intent?

The objective of preventing apps from snooping on your clipboard is reasonable. But surely it’s possible for Apple to include “always allow” among the choices so that people won’t have to constantly see this screen. Or the company could add a “pasteboard” toggle to the privacy settings for each app much in the way it does for location, notifications, background data, and so on. Just give us some way of establishing permanence for our copy and paste preferences.

The pop-up is happening so frequently that I’m almost wondering if it’s a bug and not the intended behavior. And sometimes — like when pasting into Slack — it doesn’t come up at all. Nothing’s been changed so far in the first betas of iOS 16.1, but I’m hoping Apple will refine this interaction sooner than later.