Apps of Note – Hanx Writer (iPad app)
Sitting atop the free apps in the App Store is an odd choice. It’s a typewriter app. It’s actually the typewriter app that I am using to write this short review.
So, I guess Tom Hanks (yeah the ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ Tom Hanks) is really into typewriters. Seems to border on an obsession, but then again, I can think of worse things for a movie star to spend all his piles of money on. Mr. Hanks has decided to try and infect the rest of us with his typewriter hysteria, by way of the “Hanx Writer“.
The Cup Half Full
The app comes with one free typewriter interface, and it’s a decent design. You get an onscreen keyboard with buttons that actually move down as you press them. Of course half of the fun of typing on a typewriter simulator is the clicking sound of each letter and the PING of the carriage return. Fear not! There is no requirement that you physically move the carriage tray back to the left once you reach the end of the page (though you gotta admit that could be kind of cool). You get all the standard word processing options, including spell check, and the ability to backspace (no white out required). But for the courageous, you have the ability to turn off “modern delete” and type without the ability to correct. I am not that brave. While the free typewrite is decent, you do have the option to add additional typewriters for $2-$5. I’ve already made the upgrade to the “Writer Bundle” for $4.99 (see above).
The Cup Half Empty
There is a glaring issue with this app, which has been well documented in the app store reviews, and it’s all about the export options. Basically you are typing a PDF document on this app. I say that because all of the export options (of which there are actually quite a few) only let you export in PDF format. You can’t export to Word or even to Pages. You can send it to Microsoft’s One Drive cloud storage, or Evernote, iBooks, or Kindle, but all you can do with the document there is READ it. I have found that you can copy and paste into any word processing app you might be using, so there is that. Though it’s certainly not ideal. I wouldn’t be surprised if the popularity of this app brings about some new exporting options in the future.
The Whole Cup Summed Up
The Hanx Writer is certainly a geeky indulgence. Are there better writing apps out there, with enhanced functionality? Of course there are. But the joy found in the sound of each button press is definitely something that will trigger the romantic side of many writers. The idea that we are getting a taste of an old way of crafting words and sentences into characters and story.
I’ve long held that the technology that captures our fascination and imagination the most are those that offer new ways of doing things with which we are familiar. And the Hanx Writer, typewriter simulator, is the essence of that idea turned right on its head! Doing something old on something new, in a revolutionary way!
So if you have an iPad or iPad Mini, and want to take a trip into composition’s past, grab this app and get typing!