Hanx Writer

Something Old, Something New

Actor Tom Hanks and Hitcents have partnered on a new app, Hanx Writer, that recreates the experience of a manual typewriter, but with the ease and speed of an iPad. Developed in close collaboration with Tom Hanks, Hanx Writer reflects the look, feel, and sound of old-fashioned word-processing while embracing a few new-fashioned luxuries (like the DELETE key!).

Personal letters, thank-you notes, office memos, to-do lists, and rough drafts of story pages come alive with the individualism only a typewriter can create. The typewriter experience not only provides tactile pleasure, but you can feel the rhythm of your work with each “SHOOK SHOOK” or “FITT-FITT!” A note drafted by a Hanx Writer has its own unique statement-making personality and with each thoughtful nuance, the Hanx Writer app recreates the typewriter experience in a way that’s never been done before.

Interactive Prototyping

We took our hi-fi design mock-ups and created a prototype of the app with Indigo Studio LITE. This allowed the team to visualize the final product, interact with the flow of the app, preview the animatable qualities, and identify potential problems early in the development process.

Tom's Typewriters

Tom sent us three vintage typewriters from his personal collection for us to enjoy during this project. We took full advantage of this and typed a FEW pages on each one.

Although the typewriters that were designed for the Hanx Writer app are completely custom and distinctly Hanx, Tom’s collection was a fantastic source of inspiration for our team!

Oh, and we had a little fun with them as well! On a new employee’s first day, he was welcomed to Hitcents with a desk “fully stocked” with one of Tom’s typewriters, a sheet of paper, and a pencil.


Illustration Process

Our goal was to design original typewriters that would capture the vibe of Tom’s vintage collection.

We started from scratch with pen and paper, then moved to Photoshop, and gradually added layers of shapes, colors and textures. Once we put the original Hanx stamp on it, we hand painted and highlighted the illustrations to make them more realistic and compelling.

Recreating the Typefaces

Typewriter aficionados know that each machine has a unique signature, so it was important that we create custom typefaces for each individual typewriter.

We began by sampling multiple characters, from several vintage typewriters, to get a feel for how each keystroke stamps into paper differently. Once we had our favorite mix of inkblot characters, they were scanned and individually exported with Slicy. When we were happy with the process, we automated the vectorizing, scaling, and exporting of the characters with Illustrator and JavaScript.

This allowed us to efficiently tweak the typeset and focus more on the fine detail. For the launch, we created three unique fonts, exclusive to the Hanx Writer.


Hanx Prime Select



Hanx 707



Hanx Golden Touch



3D Modeling

We used the illustrations to create the base 3D models and textures. Once we positioned the typewriters just right, we added realistic lighting as a final touch.


Final Product

We worked diligently and took many different turns until we could deliver the best Typewriter experience on iOS. After working closely with Tom Hanks and Apple, we released the Hanx Writer. Not only is the Hanx Writer an excellent word processor, but it brings the Hanx flair and brand to the mobile app world.

The Hanx Writer comes with wireless keyboard support. Each document can be emailed, printed, and shared. Invitations, letters and notes can be personalized with the complimentary Hanx Prime Select typewriter and, just like Tom, a user can expand their Hanx Writer collection via in-app purchases with the bold Hanx 707 and the luxurious Hanx Golden Touch typewriter. This extended collection comes with many additional features, including the ability to change your font color, add pictures to your title pages and create multiple documents.

The Hanx Writer is available exclusively for the iPad and can be downloaded on iTunes.


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