If you’ve ever been to Brooklyn — or Portland, for that matter — you’ve probably seen typewriters for sale and twenty-somethings hovering around them reverently. Some of these typerwriter lovers probably just want to set a beautiful old Royal on or Smith Corona on their salvaged flea market desk and stare at it all day, but others actually want to use one or turn it into something more high-tech.
Updated on 11-20-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added news of the Hanx Writer app’s arrival on iPhones.
At least one Kickstarter project and several Etsy listings have tried to make keyboard docks for the iPad in the old typewriter style. Back in August, Tom Hanks, Academy Award winner and the biggest typewriter fanatic known to man, created an iPad app called the Hanx Writer that goes clickety-clack as you bang away at the virtual keys on your screen. Then, just in time for the holidays, Hanks brought the magic of the virtual typewriter to the iPhone, too. The app looks great on the new iPhone 6 Plus’ gigantic screen and should fit gracefully on the iPhone 6’s screen, as well. Those with earlier iPhones might find things a bit cramped, but typing with the phone horizontal should free up some space.
Just like a real keyboard, the Hanx Writer makes lots of noise. As you type, you hear the keys click, the metal hammer make the ink impression upon the virtual paper, and when you reach the end of the line, it dings and zips back to start on the next line with all the fanfare of a real typewriter. Hanx Writer is free to download in the iOS App Store, but it also offers in-app purchases of $3 for different fonts, keyboard themes, and sounds. As Hanks and other keyboard aficianados well know, all typewriters are unique and each different brand has a sound of its own.
“What’s pleasing to my sensibilities is when you have the report of the key being struck, it allows for clear thinking,” Hanks told USA Today. “I suppose some people who get the app may just be looking for a different sound, but really it’s for people searching for a more personalized experience when writing on an iPad. There’s also the opportunity here to take your iPad to a coffee house and be really obnoxious with all the clickety-clacking.”
When asked about who he made the app for (other than himself, of course), Hanks replied that it could be for the Germans who are using typewriters to avoid NSA surveillance, “but really, Hanx Writer is just my little gift to the future Luddite hipsters of the world.”