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Part of a mobile text translation editor app I'm developing allows users to select a phrase of text and group it together, so that it can be translated as a unit. The source text sits above the target (translated) text in the user interface; to group the words together, the user drags with one finger over the text they want and clicks a button to merge the words encompassed by the drag start and stop points. For example, the user would drag from point A to point B in the UI:

A------------------
| tirando su pelo |
| pulling his leg |
------------------B

This works in a lot of scenarios, but I'm running into some "fat finger" issues on smaller text regions. Starting or stopping the drag on single character words is especially problematic. Some users are frequently starting or stopping the drag points in the wrong place due to the small target area.

Are there any solutions out there to mitigate this sort of issue on mobile devices? I have looked into multitouch libraries like Hammer.js, and this might be one alternative, but I'd like something really simple if possible -- some of our users are going to be new to mobile devices.

  • Drag with one finger? Also what is the problem with a single character drag, difference between accidental drag and purpose drag? – Alvaro Jan 13 '17 at 22:48
  • @Alvaro -- thanks, hopefully clarified those points in the question above. It's a drag with one finger, and the problem with selecting single characters is that some of our users are getting errant clicks/drags due to the small target area. It could be a function of cheap phones as well. – eb1 Jan 13 '17 at 23:24
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Make your drag points bigger... include a <--> (not drawn) for select all

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If the problem is not, recognising the point where the user clicks but recognising the boundaries and interacting with them, I suggest:

Opening a selection control on either drag or click, like the control used for cropping. On click a minimum selection control opens. The selection handlers can be in your corners A and B. The handlers could be a little displaced from the actual point, so they can be easy to manage when the selection is small.

  o___________
        | in  |
        |_____|____o

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