A shelf app is a very strange thing to take in. Until Federico Viticci published his iOS11 concept I hadn’t even considered the idea of needing one. He posed lots of ideas around universal drag and drop that Apple did actually build into the OS, and now this idea of a shelf to drag all those things you’ve picked up before you have a place to drop them is taking off.

With the addition of drag and drop in iOS11 and no doubt a little help from Workflow, Apple have enabled an intelligent way to move around information. This sounds straight forward, and for the majority of usage it will be, dragging and dropping information you need to move around. I strongly believe that the vast majority of users will not need to add a third step in the mix, but don’t dismiss it straight away.

The Shelf App by Dan Breslan is very strange to get your head around at first, and is almost impossible to explain why you would need it. Yet after a few times using it, and the muscle memory kicks in, it is very hard to live without. Think of The Shelf as a graphical clipboard.

The Shelf allows you to drag in all sorts of content - images, links, text, contacts - whatever your heat desires and store it ready for use. So for example whilst researching and writing this review I dragged all of the required images, links and other info into the app in slide over, and then began the first draft.

Sure, I could of compleated this without The Shelf, but instead of going backwards and forward between Safari, photos and a few other apps, I had all the info ready and waiting to go. I have begun using The Shelf in the same way many people use apps such as Copied or Text Expander, to store regularly used text and even images. I can store things there that I know I am going to need to distribute later on.

The Shelf also has dynamic data export, meaning it will intelligently recognise different information that may be required from the same thing dropped in. For example dragging in an image to a text field will give the file name, or url depending on the use case. This can be done while dropping into an app or via the iOS Share Sheet.


If you are the typical iPad user that consumes content and isn’t really going to do much dragging and dropping there is next to no need for this app. However if you work on your iPad like me then it should be an instant buy. With that said this is very early days, features are coming as long as enough people support the app with the IAP, couple this with the fact that other shelf apps are out there The Shelf App may have its work cut out.

I would like to see an option to drag things in and them stay in The Shelf - a ‘pinning’ option if you will. However perhaps these options will come if enough people support the developer.