iPad users say 'Hanks' for the typewriter app

In just four days, Tom Hanks' Hanx Writer has rocketed to the top spot on the App Store's freebie chart.

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Currently the number-one free iPad app in the App Store. Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

It almost sounded like a joke. Earlier this week, an app called Hanx Writer debuted for iPad. The author? No less than Oscar-winner Tom Hanks. The purpose? To turn your iPad into an old-school typewriter.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

No joke. Turns out, Hanks knows quite a bit about (sorry) type-casting: Hanx Writer is now the top free iPad app in the US App Store, ahead of more prominent titles like RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, YouTube, and even Netflix.

With Hanx Writer, your iPad screen transforms into a classic manual typewriter, with virtual keys that clack when you tap them and "paper" that feeds through the machine as you type.

The app comes with a free typewriter model -- the fictitious Hanx Prime Select -- and offers two additional models for $2.99 each (or $4.99 for both). These include additional features like support for multiple documents and different "ribbon" colors.

Apparently the world's love for Hanks extends to his love of typewriters as well: Hanx Writer is currently averaging about 4.5 stars (out of 5) from nearly 2,000 users.

As someone who learned to type on an electric typewriter (yes, I'm that old), I can attest that the app pretty faithfully reproduces the experience -- at least in the way it looks and sounds. Your fingers don't get the same workout as they would with a manual, but if nothing else, it's a cool trip down memory lane.

So let's all give a round of "Hanks." Ha-ha, I'm sure he's never heard that one before.

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