I'm working on a design for an iPhone app that drags & drops pictures from one place to the other, something similar to the screenshot below. I downloaded a few of the most popular picture apps (Flickr, Carousel, Shoebox) but none of them have this drag & drop feature.

  • What are some existing patterns could I use?
  • Where is the research about whether drag & drop is a recommended mobile experience?


enter image description here

  • 1
    This is the right place to ask if you can rephrase it a bit. If you ask for reasons and sources that explain why or why not to implement drag and drop on mobile devices, you will get less answers based on guesses.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 11:10
  • 2
    One app I can think of that allows drag/dropping of files is iStorage, and it shows well why it is more of a gimmick than actually useful: There is simply not enough space. But it's not said this counts for every app and (not) doing something because others do(n't) is a never a good argument.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 11:19
  • 1
    It's likely a size issue. Dragging and dropping on small screens can be a fiddly process.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 17:36
  • 1
    If you look at design application like Procreate & Pixelmator those have some nice drag and drops. Hope it helps Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


Referring the iOS HIG, Dragging is a design principle, however, it isn't used as often in iOS as it is being in the competitive mobile OSes.

Mainly, iOS functions with Multi Select > Action.

Drag and Drop requires a considerable screen estate which might not be enough for screen sizes from 4.7 inches to 5 inches.

I've however seen Drag and Drop used in iPads. Works great in that.


A good example of drag+drop pattern is the iPhone home screen interface which allows you to drag and rearrange apps or drag and group apps into folders: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT200290

Why its not popular

In many cases apps allow horizontal swiping or vertical scrolling, which automatically limits a lost of simple gestures to be used for dragging. Many applications rely on "tap+hold" to activate dragging. That gesture may not even fire if the device assumes you were scrolling or swiping or tapping, which could be frustrating.

Potential Solution

If your app does not have a need to use swiping or scrolling gestures, I don't see why you wont be able to use "tap+move".

I also found an article Touch-friendly Drag and Drop which you may find helpful to achieve what you want.

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