I’m all for nostalgia, but it gets harder to appreciate the old surrounded by my two Macs, iPhone, iPad, and all the rest of the technology I need to get through the day. Eventually, though, there’s even an app for remembering things gone by.
I wasn’t around for the days of pecking away at a typewriter keyboard, but shows like Mad Men have given us an appreciation for the trappings of that era. While we can’t all start doing our daily work on a typewriter, evocative typewriting app Electratype may be able to scratch that wistful itch.
The Typing Pool
Swipe back and forth to try out the different typewriters. There are different models, and from what I can tell from my limited typewriter knowledge, they represent the different styles you might have found throughout the 1960s, 70s, and even into the 80s. Unfortunately, there’s no old-timey typing contraptions here, but there is still a pretty good range of machines.
Choose a typewriter to get started.
Pull up on your typewriter to reveal the available papers. Each typewriter has its own papers available to suit its particular style, as you can imagine the letterhead used on the typewriter situated in a garage would have been very different from that you’d find at an ad agency or an architecture firm. There are some papers in portrait view, but these seem few and far between when compared to all of the landscape papers and cards you can type on. After all, you’re not really going to use Electratype for word processing; it’s going to be a nifty way to write notes to your friends.
The various ribbons and fonts are also found amongst the papers, but they don’t really seem to change from typewriter to typewriter. Judging by the variety in papers, you’d expect to see a wide range of choices for your type, but that’s not the case. There are nine ribbons but only four colors to choose from. You’ll find a lot more fonts, and while it’s expected that they’d be monospace — you are meant to be working on a typewriter, after all — there just aren’t as many as I’d like to see. I used the app to make cute cards to send to friends, and I’d like as much creative freedom to do that as possible. Of course, once you’ve switched out all the different ribbons with the different fonts, you’ll have a bunch of different combinations, so there really is no need for repeats.
Papers and ribbons let you customize the look.
When you’re done, hit the Share key, right on the typewriter, to send your typewritten memo on to friends. There are a few different ways to share your message, and I’m not even talking about sharing services, yet. You can send you card or letter as is, leave it slotted in the typewriter, or Electratype will casually toss it on a desk blotter and send the image that way. When you’ve chosen your presentation, you can send your message on via Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, or just save it to your Camera Roll. Even though I would have been happier with the inclusion of Instagram, I was pleased as punch to see the sometimes forgotten Tumblr included.
Social Typing Skills
As mentioned earlier, this is absolutely not a word processor. You are not going to get a lot of typing done here. Electratype is a novelty, and it’s not something you should expect to use for any real work. What you can do is create awesome cards for your friends or social media followers and share them really easily. There are some great papers included, making it easy to turn out something pretty neat looking in just a few minutes.
Share your finished card!
Again, I wish there were more choices in ribbon colors and font choices, and while I understand baby blue and hot pink aren’t authentic to the nostalgic feel Electratype is trying to create, a greater range of more contemporary colors would have added a whole lot to the app. That said, it is hard to ignore the inherent nostalgia in an app like Electratype, and I definitely understand that to update the options too much would have been inconsistent.
There’s No Going Back
Man, though, one thing I sure would have liked would have been a backspace. There is a Backspace key, but all it does is move the typewriter’s equivalent of a cursor, literally, back a single space. You’ll just type over the letter that’s already there, creating a big mess. There’s also a Correct key, which I assume is a holdover from whatever typewriter the Electratype folks based the app on, because it didn’t seem to do anything for me.
Type carefully, because there’s no undo!
I’d hazard that most of us are by now used to autocorrect and word processor apps that underline errors, and even barring that, I don’t think there’s a person reading this who hasn’t grown dependent on hitting the Backspace or Delete key a few times to fix a misspelled word. There’s none of that in Electratype, at least that I could find after a lot of trial and a lot of error. The iPad keyboard isn’t always the easiest thing to use, and it was frustrating to be forced to start over every time I made an error. Yeah, that’s how it was back in the day, but they also had correction fluid back in the day, too.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to upgrade Electratype through an in-app purchase to get all of the typewriters and papers and everything. While I know a lot of people will say that’s a huge bummer, I don’t agree. You get to try it out for a while and see if it’s something you actually want to pay for before jumping in.
Electratype is a lot of fun, especially if you’re a fan of typewriters or even just all things old fashioned or forgotten in time. Despite my less than nimble fingers on the iPad’s keyboard, I managed to turn out a ton of cute cards for my friends and then share them all over. If after giving it a whirl, you find you’re having as much fun as I did, it’s definitely worth Electratype’s price of upgrade to put the feel of all those typewriters at your fingertips.