While Apple took a fair amount of time developing the current copy-and-paste mechanism for iOS, holding off on releasing it until iPhone OS 3.0 in mid-2009, Microsoft's new update for its Bing for iPad app shows off an alternative method for text selection known as "Lasso". The technique allows users to select text to serve as the basis of Bing searches by simply drawing circles around the desired search terms.
From our research, we know that many searches are inspired by things people see on the web. Today, it can be somewhat painful to search on a tablet when you're engaged in reading something; just copying and pasting pieces of text from a webpage to a search box can take up to nine steps on the iPad. With Lasso you can circle and search in just two steps.
While support for the Lasso search method is of course limited to usage inside the Bing for iPad app, it offers an interesting glimpse at a usability concept that could make its way into other areas.
What you're seeing today is only the beginning. Lasso moves Bing beyond the search box. Although it will only be available in Bing for iPad to begin with, we're already thinking about how to take Lasso even further - so stay tuned.
In addition to Lasso, the new Version 1.1 update to Bing for iPad also adds enhanced movie listings and a host of other improvements.