Tom Hanks likes typewriters. He really, really likes them. Hanks likes typewriters so much, it's kind of surprising he's not married to one. He happens to own a collection of them that at one time topped 200 machines.
Hanks is obsessed with typewriters because he loves the analog feel of the keys being pressed, as well as the clacking sound those keys make. He's used the machines to write screenplays, to write notes to friends and more. Hanks says that the old-school feel of them "allows for clear thinking" when he's writing.
Today, Tom Hanks has teamed up with a company called Hitcents to release an iPad app called Hanx Writer. The app presents you with a typewriter's interface, which reacts exactly the way a real typewriter does. You'll hear the clacking of the keys when you touch them, the metal stamp mashing against the paper and the barrel retracting when you reach the end of a line so you can start a new one. Don't bother holding down the period key or the space bar; you'll have to hit those keys again and again to get the result you want. One thing it doesn't have is a Tab button. It's a glaring oversight for a writing app that aims for an authentic yesteryear experience.
Hanx Writer is a free download that features a basic virtual typewriter called the Prime Select, but additional virtual typewriters called the 707 and the Golden Touch are available in-app for $2.99 each or $4.99 for both.The Golden Touch adds extra functions as well, such as text alignment, alternative ribbon (ink) colors, image embedding, the ability to save multiple documents and more.
Hanks tells USA Today that the app is "for people searching for a more personalized experience when writing on an iPad." The actor wants to make it clear that this app is no toy; it's meant to be a very real tool for professionals. Anyone who's used a typewriter will recognize these sights and sounds instantly, but today's younger generation may find it a charming novelty or a silly relic of the past.
While Hanx Writer has retro sensibilities, it's not so slavish to the past that it ignores modern conveniences. Typewriters never had a Delete button, a blinking cursor or AutoCorrect, but the app does. (If you want to go for a fully authentic experience, you can turn the Delete button off.) You can also email, print, or share your document from inside the app. To get the full experience, Hitcents recommends using the app while your iPad is paired to a Bluetooth keyboard.
Don't assume that his passion for analog means that Hanks is not tech-friendly to current devices. The actor has a Twitter account that he personally posts to quite frequently.