Scott Jenson explains his research into mobile text editing at Google, detailing how editing on mobile devices is surprisingly difficult and error-prone due to how mobile interfaces copied the desktop metaphor of cursor positioning and text selection without a mouse or menu bar.

This issue forces imprecise tapping gestures, overloaded with different functions like cursor placement, selection, and menu access. Jenson conducted a study confirming these issues and then created a prototype called Eloquent that reimagines mobile text editing with improved cursor control through dragging, a new "drag press" gesture for text selection, and streamlined menus. In short, he demonstrates a potential solution to this "invisible problem" of poor mobile text editing experiences.

Key points:

  • Android and iOS copied desktop text editing without a mouse, overloading tap gestures for multiple actions

  • Users frequently make mistakes with cursor positioning, selection, clipboard usage

  • Text editing was considered "good enough" so little research was done to improve it

The Eloquent Prototype Solution

  • Simplified cursor placement, treating all taps as drags

  • Magnifier visualization over the cursor

  • "Drag press" gesture for text selection

  • Combined gestures for selecting text and accessing menus

  • Animations to reinforce and teach the new interaction model

Magnifier drag animations


With the extremely talented Olivier Bau, together we created a prototype called Eloquent, which offers a much simpler solution.

Text editing on mobile was considered 'good enough.' Since people weren’t complaining, there was little motivation to improve it.


8th May 2024


responsive design

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