Hanx Writer is currently dominating the iTunes store for writers.
With 782 reviews to date, it’s hard to tell whether this really is an app doing something incredible, or whether people just love Tom Hanks.
Me: people just love Tom Hanks.
The app? I love it. It has changed my writing experience (only because I’m over 35 years old).
Firstly, the app itself is nothing more than a buggy beta. This isn’t my opinion: this is fact. Try and use it – please don’t pay for it – in its current state and you’ll be pulling your hair out, loosing your work, and wondering what the hell is going on. Here’s some indicators:
- where’s the ‘save’ button? There isn’t one.
- how do I copy and paste?
- export options are missing – PDF only?? WTF?
- the keyboard keeps popping up – how do I stop it? (when using an external keyboard, ie: everyone)
- I can’t drag the cursor around!!
- my text has disappeared
See? Basics. This is without trying to do anything fancy, like Print, or Tab, or Import. No. Copying ffs. What??
Currently there’s radio silence from Hitcents.com (the company who created it) and Tom certainly isn’t replying to his (clickity) fan mail!
Who knows if/when this will be properly bug tested and updated – it could be a while.
That said, I am in LOVE with this app. Even with all the bugs that this thing has, it has knocked my productivity up to 11. I can only put it down to one thing: my memory of typing on a real typewriter. I remember bashing the keys on one borrowed from my Auntie – and it was the start of my voice developing and something physical – my thoughts! – being created. Once done, I had pieces of paper to hold that were all mine. I had published! This was a massive deal back in the day. It’s akin to owning your own printing press. Remember this is before personal computers and desktop printers. Yes, I remember having a go on one in school, but those things were bricks and cost the earth. The simple, clunky, typewriter started a chain of events which began the rest of my life. I believe this is what happened to many many more people who have downloaded the Hanx Writer – and all of them are over 35.
Are you under 35? Then you can be completely forgiven for binning this app in a very short space of time. You’re right, it’s rubbish. Much in the same way that no-one under 35 wears a watch – you don’t have to, you’ve owned a phone for the last 15 years! What’s the point of this mono-function device?
So for me, what I love about this app, is it mimics the typewriter as closely as it possibly can. The attention to detail is beautiful. The only thing which is missing for me is the occasional clashing of letter-bars (heads?) as I try and type too fast (ask your mum or dad kids.) This has captured something in me similar to the way that I will always love and appreciate holding a film camera, winding it on, and hearing the shutter ‘click’. Digital hasn’t captured that for me.
My writing has improved, because now with my headphones in my ears, I can listen to the clicking of real keys, and I am being rewarded each time I hit them. It’s my idea of playing a computer game, and the prize is very very worth it.
Don’t hesitate. If you own an iPad (with an external keyboard, btw) get Hanx Writer, try it now, and pray, pray, pray for some updates to come rolling out. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below.
Mark Mapstone is a skateboarder, a writer, and author of the Ethan Wares Skateboard Series books.
Follow Mark on Instagram: @7plywood
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