Tom Hanks’ typewriter app a hit on iTunes

hanx-writer-app-by-tom-hanksRemember those traditional typewriters that hurt your fingers and made a heavy clunking sound every time you hit a key. They even used real paper – lots of it. No, us neither. Honest.

Well, if like Tom Hanks you lament the passing of the traditional typewriter, with its clunking sounds, sticky keys and smudged, unevenly spaced characters, you can now download an app for your iPad that emulates the experience. And you won’t be alone as the app, that was released last week, has already shot to number 1 in the iTunes App Store

It might have something to do with the fact that it has been developed by Tom Hanks, who not only has celebrity appeal but has also spent months waxing lyrical about the charms of this iconic old piece of machinery.

Hanx Writer (see what they did there) presents you with an on screen keyboard that looks like that of an old fashioned typewriter and makes all the authentic sounds as you type, including the distinctive “ding” when you move on to the next line. Your text appears in old school typewriter script as if it is emerging from the typewriter on the screen. There’s also the option to connect to a Bluetooth keyboard for a slightly more authentic typing experience, and you can even chose different (virtual) machines, for a premium.

Hanx WriterWhile the app replicates the sounds and, to a certain extent, the experience of using an old fashioned typewriter, it does have enhanced features that writers back in the back would have killed for, such as the ability to delete mistakes. You can also save, print, email or share documents.

The app comes in three different versions for iPad, with the basic one being free. You can upgrade to more sophisticated versions that allow you to use different coloured ribbons and backgrounds, save multiple documents and incorporate photos into your documents.

It’s probably not an app to use to produce an important report for work or anything that requires to be done quickly. And it’s probably wise to avoid using it on the train or other public place, if you don’t want to incur the wrath of those around you who may not feel quite so sentimental about sounds from a bygone age. But as a novelty app, it’s well-made, fun to use and allows you to pretend that you’re one of the great classic novelists or screenwriters tapping out a masterpiece, but without the inconvenience of Tip Ex or finger fatigue.

Have you downloaded Hanx Writer? What do you think?

iOS 6 Announced: Goodbye Google Maps, Hello Facebook

Apple last night announced this year’s update it’s mobile operating system – iOS 6. iOS 6

There are ‘over 200 new features’ according to the marketing fluff but a handful stand out as being significant including Apple’s new home-brewed map application, full Facebook integration to the heart of the operating system, updates to Siri making it practically self-aware, some nice tweaks to Photo Stream and a ticketing App called Passbook. 

The all new Maps app has been built from the ground up by Apple.  Now you may have been happy enough with the ubiquitous, fairly reliable Google Maps but Apple want to make it better – and further reduce their reliance on anything produced by their arch rivals Google. The map graphics are ‘vector-based’ which means you can tilt, zoom and pan around maps in a smooth and fluid way in a high resolution. Turn by turn navigation means you no longer need a separate sat nav or sat nav app and the ‘Flyover’ feature creates photo-realistic 3D views, but most likely only for major cities – and US ones to start with.  iOS6 Maps - Flyover

There’s also live traffic info (it will be interesting to see if this is available in the UK) and local search listings that include Yelp ratings, photos and deals.

Siri is updated to work on the iPad and adds features such as the ability to update your Facebook status, retrieve sports scores and make restaurant reservations. 

One new feature that’s long overdue is the integration of Facebook into the core of the main operating system.  This was added for Twitter in iOS5 but due to some corporate chest-beating Facebook was kept out until now.  You’ll soon only need to sign into Facebook once on your iPhone or iPad for all apps and web browsing and then be able to post directly to Facebook from Photos, Safari, Siri and Maps. Your Contacts and Calendar will update with your friends contact details, birthdays and events.  The birthday updates will be a relationship saver for many of us!iOS6 Facebook Integration

The main improvement to Photo Stream is that you will be able to share selected photos directly with friends and family via ‘Shared Photo Streams’.  These shared streams will automatically update on their iPhone, iPad or Macbook when you add new pics.  Imagine how jealous you could make your friends back home by instantly sharing a stream of photos from every step of your road trip across the States or as you descend the slopes in the Alps! Or perhaps you could share a stream of pics of your new baby with only interested family and friends rather than broadcasting them to all and sundry on Facebook.iOS6 - Photo Stream

Passbook is designed to let you keep tickets for events, in-store discount vouchers and boarding passes in one place. 

iOS6 Passbook

The new Passbook app is the simplest way to get all your passes in one place, such as boarding passes and baseball tickets. Passbook lets you scan your iPhone or iPod touch to use a coupon, get into a concert or check into your hotel. Passbook automatically displays your passes on your Lock Screen based on a specific time or location, so when you walk into your favorite coffee shop your loyalty card appears and you can scan it to buy a coffee or check your balance. 

There’s a whole additional bunch of iOS 6 features that are less exciting but you can read more here if you so choose.

Let us know what you think about iOS 6, the new Maps feature and the Facebook integration by leaving a comment below!

Missed your bus? TFL is here to help

Find out when your next bus is with TFL

Find out when your next bus is with TFL

Don’t you just hate it when you have just missed a bus and don’t know when the next one will come by? Well now this problem has now been solved.

You can now get real-time bus information, directly on you mobile or online. With this information you can find out when the next bus for any route is due.

So while you’re out with your friends, or just about to leave work, simply text your bus stop code to 87287*, or even go online and find out when your next bus will be.

It is simple to find your bus stop code online, simply use the street name, post code or route number to locate your bus stop. Or you can find the code above the information panel at your bus stop.

Find out more about this bus service here.

GarageBand now available for your iPhone and iPod Touch

Apple has recently announced that GarageBand, a music creation app, is available for iPhone and iPod Touch users. It has been available to iPad users for a while now, but now Apple wants to make it even easier for users to create their own sounds.

Create your own music with GarageBand, available for your iPhone and iPod Touch

Create your own music with GarageBand, available for your iPhone and iPod Touch

You don’t have to be Mozart to be able to create music. With a variety of instruments and styles, it is easy for you to create a great piece using their fun touch instruments.  You can even select you favourite song in the library of custom chords, and play along to it. You can even connect your electric guitar to your iPhone, iPad of iPod Touch and record any acoustic sounds with the built-in microphone.  You can save up to 8 finished tracks and then share them with GarageBand.

Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing , Philip Schiller said “GarageBand on iPad has been a big hit and we think customers will love using it on their iPhone or iPod touch. “The innovative Multi-Touch interface combined with Smart Instruments makes it easy to create great sounding music, even if you’ve never studied music or played an instrument before.”

The GarageBand 1.1 is available for £2.99 at the App Store, and you can update it for free if you already have GarageBand on your iPad.

Lovefilm Player now available for the iPad

Although LoveFilm is one of the UK’s main movie rentals on demand, it has taken it a lot of time to get its iOS App together. We all know how much Apple does not like Flash video, however many companies have found a way round this to produce iOS specific apps for the iPad2. LoveFilm does have an app that allows you order movies through the post and even watch trailers; however this is not much of a step forward, whereas the Lovefilm Player is exactly what many people wanted to see.

LoveFilm App now available for the iPad

LoveFilm App now available for the iPad

The new LoveFilm Player app is good but it isn’t perfect. For one it only runs on the iPad, to Lovefilm subscribers, but at least it provides subscribers with decent streaming.

With this app you are able to browse for films by genre, rating or just alphabetically. If you have LoveFilm’s unlimited subscription, with packages starting at just £5.99 a month, then you can watch all these movies for free. The video quality of the films is quite good, however in some of the genres there are not enough titles. For example the Science fiction category is pretty thing on the ground.  But on the up, LoveFilm have said that they will add new films each month, so my advice would be to keep your eyes open for this.