Actor, writer, director…app developer? Though Tom Hanks has long been a world-famous actor, this week he is gaining notoriety for his new Apple iPad app. Hanx Writer, an app that mimics a classic typewriter, has held the top spot in the app store since its launch earlier this week. For people who miss the sounds of the classic typewriter while typing, this is the app to download.
For the thousands who have never used a “classic typewriter,” it is much noisier than a word processor with its clacking keys, moving carriage and the cheerful “ding” that sounds every time the typist hits the return key. Hanks told USA Today, he considers the app “his gift to future hipsters.” If download numbers are any indicator, iPad users are finding typewriters an enticing “blast from the past.”
Hanks collaborated with iOS technology agency, Hitcents, to produce the app for Apple. Although the basic download is free, there are in-app purchase options that include features like changing typewriters, font or background colors. A user is allowed to use either the classic delete (which uses the letter “x” in place of the original letter), or a more modern delete that mimics a computer’s backspace. The typewriter experience in this case is mostly about sound, since the iPad touch screen and keypad do not require the same pressure as a typewriter key.
The app’s users have the ability to choose from three different typewriter models: the 707, the Golden Touch and the Prime Select. Each model’s “mood” and sounds are distinctly different, with the 707 being the quietest and smallest of the three. The Prime Select most closely mimics the 1950s Smith Corona typewriter. The Golden Touch has the most bells and whistles. Although each typewriter can be purchased within the application for $2.99, there is a price break for getting all three models.
Since the app debuted late last week, it has garnered more than 1,300 reviews and earned a four-and-a-half star rating. Not only is Hanx Writer No. 1 in the Apple store’s free apps category overall, Hanks seems to have tapped into something big in the Productivity category, where the software also holds the top spot. Hanks has been tweeting under the hashtag #HanxWriter that “while he doesn’t recommend the app for term papers, he highly recommends it for creative writing and love letters.”
Hanks, who collects typewriters, did a piece in the New York Times last summer celebrating his love of the classic machine, an affection which shines through clearly in Hanx Writer. Hanks equated the sounds of the typewriter with the inspiration to create. To him “they are music and every typewriter has a signature sound to match the creative mood.” The actor admits “he uses snail mail and a manual typewriter almost every day.”
America is obviously still in the throes of love with both the Forrest Gump star and the iPad. Although there are other typewriter apps in the Apple store, there are no others in the No. 1 spot, and associated with American icon Tom Hanks.
By Jenny Hansen