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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.

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.

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.