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Turn your iPad into an old-school typewriter with Hanx Writer

Tom Hanks loves typewriters and wants to give iPad writers the feeling and sound of using a manual typewriter.

Matt Elliott/CNET

It's a widely known fact that Tom Hanks is an accomplished actor, director, producer, and writer, but did you know that he is also a champion of the manual typewriter (and can easily be bribed with one)? And as a side note, Tom Hanks is amusing on Twitter, punctuating nearly each of his tweets with #hanx.

Today, Tom Hanks can add iPad app creator to his list of accomplishments. Working with developer, he released the Hanx Writer app. As Tom Hanks states in his letter that greets when you first launch Hanx Writer, the app "provides the ease and speed of an iPad with the sound and pace of a manual typewriter."

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

The free app provides one typewriter model, the Hanx Prime Select. Two other models -- the Hanx 707 and the Hanx Golden Touch -- are available as in-app purchases for $2.99 (£1.99, AU$3.79) each or $4.99 (£2.99, AU$6.49) for the pair. The Hanx 707 is modeled after travel models that are quieter and smaller than a big desk model, while the Hanx Golden Touch is a luxury model, sleek and elegant. Each comes with its own set of features -- support for multiple documents, text alignment, title page and picture, and ribbon and background colors -- not offered on the free Hanx Prime Select.

You can try the 707 and Golden Touch models for free; each provides its own look, feel, and sound. In settings, you can turn off the animation where the page and ribbon move as you type, and you can also turn off the clickity-clack and shook-shook sound effects, but where's the fun in that?

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Each of the models features a delete key, which you can set up in one of two ways. With the modern delete setting enabled, you can delete as you would on any modern word-processing program: hit delete and the previous letter disappears from the digital page. With modern delete disabled, the delete key instead X's out the previous letter for a more authentic typewriting experience. No matter which delete option you choose, you still have the ability to tap and hold on the page to highlight a block of text to delete at once or cut, copy, and paste.

I could not find, however, an undo function with Hanx Writer, but I did find an easy way to hide the keyboard and enter reading mode -- just rotate your iPad into portrait mode.

In a nod to the modern iPad writer, each typewriter model also provides numbers and special symbols keyboards. You will need to get used hitting the period key at the end of sentences, however, because tapping the space bar twice adds two spaces but not a period in the process. Lastly, Hanx Writer provides modern sharing options, including text and email along with opening your documents in apps including Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive.