It has shot to No. 1 this week in Apple’s iTunes App Store, both in the Productivity category and overall. Who knew that a nostalgic throwback to a simpler time long before smart devices dominated the planet would be so popular? Actor Tom Hanks recently debuted the free writing app Hanx Writer, which the App Store calls “a charming tribute to a time when the words you put on paper literally made lasting impressions.”
The Hanx Writer turns your modern iPad (sorry, it’s not available for iPhones, Android or other devices) into an old-school manual typewriter, complete with the authentic sounds of clicking keys and carriage-return dings.
In a USA Today article, Hanks says his intent wasn’t to create a plaything (although there’s no denying it’s a lot of fun to use) but rather a functional tool. And it is that. The app combines the look and feel of an old-fashioned tool with modern word processing features such as cutting and pasting text and the ability to share documents via email. The “typewriter” also has an auto-correct function and a delete key. Users may type with the on-screen retro keyboard, or just pretend they’re using it by enabling their Bluetooth keyboard.
In the USA Today article, Hanks reveals that his collection of vintage typewriters has numbered as high as 200. He told the paper he uses a typewriter daily for such tasks as composing notes to friends and commenting on screenplays.
"I suppose some people who get the app may just be looking for a different sound, but really, it's for people searching for a more personalized experience when writing on an iPad," Hanks told USA Today. "There's also the opportunity here to take your iPad to a coffee house and be really obnoxious with all the clickety-clacking," he added.
I gave it a try, and it brought back fond memories of using my trusty baby-blue Smith Corona electric typewriter when I was in grad school at Stanford University.
Last year, Hanks wrote an ode to the vintage typewriter that appeared in the New York Times. His Opinion piece was titled “I Am TOM. I Like to TYPE. Hear That?”
The Academy Award winning actor hasn’t had a problem getting the word out about his app. He continues to promote it to his 8.7 million followers on Twitter. And, grad students, he doesn’t recommend using it for writing college papers, but says it’s fine for composing love letters and journal entries as well as taking notes.
The Hanx Writer with its basic typewriter is free in the App Store. Add-ons – such as additional typewriter models, fonts, sounds, and colored ribbons – are available for purchase separately. All of the add-ons may be purchased in one “Writer’s Block Bundle” for $4.99.