This summer we witnessed a weird tendency in the world of iPad apps: contending typewriter apps fighting for the attention of users nostalgic about this writer’s accessory from the bygone era.
The first one, Hanx Writer, rose to the top of iTunes chart in less than two weeks after launching, probably partially due to the fact that it is created by Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks creating iPad apps is already weird enough, but what does he have to do with typewriters? Apparently, he is really fond of them and believes that working with a word processor just doesn’t have the same feel as your good old typewriter which, according to him, allows you to feel the rhythm of your work.
That is why he created Hanx Writer, an app that allows you to get the best of two worlds: the feel of a clunky old typewriter combined with the ease and speed of iPad. So yes, Tom Hanks didn’t take away “delete” key, the single most important invention since paper and ink.
Hanx Writer’s competitor, Typing Writer, is apparently much more hardcore and aims to completely recreate the typewriter experience on your iPad. And when we say “typewriter experience”, we don’t mean that it looks and sounds like one (though it does). We mean that it is just as unwieldy as an actual typewriter.
The “delete” key is mercilessly removed and replaced with a kind of weird digital White-Out – by brushing over particular fragments of the text with your finger you may brush out letters or words, leaving conspicuous white smudges. If you simply try to type over something, there will still be the original letter underneath.
In other words, Typing Writer aims at recreating all the inconveniences accompanying real typewriters using the latest achievements in digital technologies that allowed us to escape the said inconveniences in the first place.
There is, of course, some talk about showing people the importance of getting your work on the page, accompanied with a number of first drafts by different authors, but one can hardly imagine somebody actually using this app for any actual work. People who do serious writing work don’t have enough time to create additional difficulties for themselves, no matter what experience this is going to provide. The difficulty of getting the job done is more than enough.
Typing Writer would have been a nice toy to try once and forget, if not for the fact that it is not free to download. However, the price is far from being prohibitive, so it is not surprising that a lot of people have downloaded and keep downloading this app.
Hanx Writer, which is free except for add-on bundles, seems to be a more viable offer – while providing some atmosphere of Olde Worlde typing it doesn’t include the more annoying elements of good old times. Atmosphere is all right for inspiration, while complete imitation of the ancient tech will only hinder the work. Still, it seems like you have to really suffer from nostalgia to use such apps on a regular basis for longer than a week.