There’s nothing like the sound of an old-fashioned typewriter to make us nostaligic for the time before new-fangled computers, notebooks, and tablets invaded our world.
The carriage’s clickety-clack and ding are sounds we haven’t heard in decades as new technology improved our productivity and turned us toward a paperless society.
Step in the new Hanx Writer, a new iOS app co-developed by Tom Hanks and Hicents.com Inc. Since its debut, it became one of the top free apps in the App Store.
The app joins a number of text editors flooding the iOS market such as Textilus, iaWriter and a host of others. Although many of these act as simple word processors, none bring back the fond typewriter memories.
Hanx Writer does that with fantastic typewriter animation. When one hits the end of the row, the carriage automatically returns and the paper rolls up to the next row, just like it would in a real typewriter. When the paper is complete, it’s quickly whisked away and a blank sheet replaces the old it.
Additionally, watching the animated keys depress and hearing the realistic ding are a joy. One can imagine the smell of the typewriter and ink from the ribbon.
Hanx Writer also incorporates modern productivity into the app. In modern delete mode, the backspace will simply wipe out the letters or words. When it’s off, the backspace will show the old-fashioned crossed out XXX’s. What’s missing is a way to simulate the familiar bottle of White Out.
Hanx Writer takes getting used to because there’s no room on an iPad screen for a full-size keyboard. Users must switch back and forth to select numeric keys, punctuation, and symbols. The app adds a nice touch by including symbols for the pound, euro, and yen.
While Hanx Writer’s merger between the modern and old world makes typing fun, expect a steep learning curve for numeric key selection and symbols because they aren’t always in the most intuitive spot.
Spelling mistakes are pretty common with Hanx Writer if you aren’t the most precise typist. There were a lot of red lines in our copy so we had to paste it into another word processor for a more thorough spell check.
The app also allows you to view your document in portrait mode, but that disables the editing functionality.
The app doesn’t recreate the entire typewriter experience because you don’t have to do anything to active the carriage return mechanism. Remember pulling a lever to return the carriage in the old days?
Free vs. Paid
For an additional $2.99, Hanx Writer offers the Hanx 707 and includes features such as text alignment and new ribbon colors. The Writer’s Bundle with the Hanx 707 and Golden Touch model sells for $4.99.
Unless you have a serious penchant for typewriters, the free version is mostly. The app is almost entirely customizable. For instance, “modern” capabilities, the return animation, and the click of the keys can be turned on and off.
The free version of Hanx Writer is limited to the Hanx Prime Select. It allows users to create one document and send it through e-mail.
However, the file is stored in.pdf format, limiting it from easily being edited by a full blown word processor or text editor. The free version should have enabled different formats for people who want to store their files in as a Word or Pages documents, or .rtf and .txt files.
However, one can select the copy and then just paste it into a true word processor to format it properly.
While users wouldn’t want to compose the great American novel or a long term paper on the Hanx Writer, one can use it to compose short letters or notes just for fun.
And just for the record, this review draft was written using Hanx Writer with the final version edited in Word.