Introducing The Shelf

Before Apple’s annual developer conference this year, WWDC 2017, Federico Viticci and Sam Beckett created a piece on MacStories titled iOS 11 : iPad Wishes and Concept Video. This included a concept they called Shelf for iPad in iOS 11. The whole premise of the shelf was centred around system wide drag and drop to “serves as a holding place for bits of content without an immediate destination”.

In June, Apple held WWDC and did indeed announce APIs and support for system wide drag and drop in iOS 11 on iPad. Unfortunately, Shelf as envisaged by Federico and Sam was not included in iOS. Fortunately, the public APIs allowed the concept to be created as a standalone app by a third party developer. The new and improved Slide Over in iOS 11 also means that such an app can always be one swipe away at all times.

I decided to spend my spare time this summer making such an app.


The Shelf

The Shelf is my new app designed and built for iOS 11 on iPad. (It is pretty great on iPhone too.) The Shelf allows you to import, via drop or copy, many kinds of data into it to hold until it is needed later.

Data Types

The Shelf supports a handful of data types at launch:

  • Map Locations1
  • Emails2
  • Images
  • URLs with rich previews
  • Links to apps
  • Attributed Text
  • Plain Text

Data that is represented as one of these types 3 can be imported into The Shelf to store for later. When needed the data can be exported, dragged or copied, from The Shelf.

Dynamic Data Export

When data is dropped into The Shelf it often has many representations, for example:

  • when an extract of a website, is imported into The Shelf from Safari, it can be represented as Attributed Text 4, Plain Text or the URL of the page containing the extract
  • when an image is added from Safari, it can be represented as the original image data or the URL of the image

The Shelf will intelligently recognise and store these alternate representations of the data, even offering them to the receiving app when exported. The individual representations can also be viewed and exported out individually, creating an incredible powerful and flexible app.  The Shelf can also export data via the iOS Share Sheet – allowing Workflows to be triggered.

Feature Roadmap & Pricing

Developing The Shelf is a side project, something I work on alone in my spare time around my day job. Continuous ongoing development of The Shelf is essential to allow support for more data types to be added; as 3rd party apps support dragging, comprehensive dropping support can be including in The Shelf.

To justify and help finance further development, I need help from you. If you subscribe, you will help pay for more data types to be supported and development of new features for The Shelf. To use The Shelf, at first there will be a small 5 yearly subscription. This cost may increase over time as I add more features, but I never increase your subscription.

The more subscriber there are, the faster that I can add features and data types. A subscriber count and provisional list of subscriber needed and planned features can be seen here.  It’s a bit like Kickstarter except instead of backers and strech goals, it’s subscribers and app features.

Beta Testing

As The Shelf is a new app, I am sure there are some bugs hiding in the edge use cases. I would love help testing, if you are interested, let me know via email or twitter.


Look out for it in the App Store on the day  that iOS 11 launches.

  1. from
  2. from
  3. as defined by the source app
  4. with styling, colours, images and links
  5. around $2-3

13 thoughts on “Introducing The Shelf

  1. James Pearce says

    I would love to subscribe when available and use this app. It will bring awesome functionality we can all use to our devices, that is missing today.

  2. Enrico says

    I’m interested in the app and I would like to subscribe.
    One question related to understand how the data type “mail” will work.
    Will it be possible to copy-paste an email like an attachment in another mail / document (just like you can do in Outlook desktop version)?
    Thanks a lot,


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