Hanx Writer: App Review

App Review HanxWriter

It was inevitable: Tom Hanks’s famous obsession with manual typewriters has been perverted into Hanx Writer, an ironic iPad app designed to mimic the experience of using a manual typewriter. I chuckled when I saw it featured in the app store, remembering this anecdote of the clever folks at Nerdist bribing Mr. Hanks with a vintage typewriter (it worked).

I gave it a whirl, and find it to be a delightful novelty app. With further development of fonts, ribbons, machines, it could be the typewriter version of Hipstamatic, a retro film camera effects app. Hanx Writer is free to download. Add-ons are available for purchase from within the app.

The New York Times published Mr. Hanks ode to the typewriter last year (“I am Tom. I like to TYPE. Hear that?“). He admits using a computer for longer-form writing, but the typewriter is his tool of choice for shorter treatments like rough ideas, correspondence, and lists. His description of the “tactile pleasure” in using a typewriter is joyfully poetic:

“Computer keyboards make a mousy tappy tap tappy tap like ones you hear in a Starbucks — work may be getting done but it sounds cozy and small, like knitting needles creating a pair of socks. Everything you type on a typewriter sounds grand, the words forming in mini-explosions of SHOOK SHOOK SHOOK. A thank-you note resonates with the same heft as a literary masterpiece.”

Hanx Writer is a sweet digital nod to the typewriter. The action is good, almost like using a well-oiled machine. A few places I would like to see the app truer to a real typewriter:

  • Carriage return at the end of a line
  • Ability to set line spacing
  • Correction tape, for that old-school editing look
  • Typeover ability, to do XXX when you’ve changed your mind

The only output offered is sending to PDF. I hope in the future the app will send files as text. Hanxwriter would be my new note taking and list making app if I could start with the app and finish on my laptop.

Bottom line: Quirky fun, but hold off on the premium features.

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One Comment

  1. I agree. Fun, but I should not have bought the extra typewriters, even at the 4.99 deal if there was no way to adjust line spacing. So for now, Pages still rules. Might be fun, though, to spend the extra .99 if I can get this typewriter emulator to work in Pages, or even word. Would help make me feel like a real old-school writer-writer, y’know?

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