Apple Inc. is updating its software for iPhones so that users can cut, copy and paste text — a basic computing feature that many people had lamented was missing from the gadget that seems to do everything.

At an iPhone event for journalists Tuesday at Apple headquarters, the company also pledged to broaden the way that third-party software programmers can build and sell content for the device.

Among other things, software developers now will be able to create applications that have items for sale within them, such as electronic books or additional levels of a video game.

And developers will be able to access the music within users' iPhone libraries, so songs they own can be included in games, for example.

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Despite the adulation over the iPhone, which shook up the smart phone market after launching in 2007, many users wondered why it couldn't cut and paste text.

Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iPhone software, said it was "not obvious" how to get past several hurdles, including getting cut and paste to work with the device's touch-screen interface.

Now, Apple said, the third generation of iPhone software, due to be released this summer, will let users copy information from notes and Web pages, and let people move text between different applications. Users who erroneously paste text can shake the iPhone to get an option to cut it.

In another effort to make the device more useful, Apple promises a search function called "Spotlight" that lets people hunt for information in multiple applications at once, including notes, the calendar and iTunes.

The new software will be available in a free download for iPhones. Getting the software on the iPod Touch will cost $9.95.

Apple shares were up $1.77, 1.9 percent, at $97.19 in afternoon trading.