Hi friends! Welcome to the first-ever edition of Installer. My hope here every week is to be your guide to all the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. My original pitch for this was just “what if we just found all the cool apps/videos/creators/whatevers every week and put it all in one place,” and that’s what Installer is here to be.
Normally, these won’t start with a long preamble about How It All Works, but seeing as we’ve never done this before, I’ll try and explain things as we go. First and most important: Installer absolutely positively does not work without you. I’m going to do my best to find great new stuff every week, but I’m also hoping you’ll tag me in funny posts, DM me hilarious memes, and email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) links to all the best stuff you encounter all over the web. We’re going to make this thing great together every single week.
There are two ways to get Installer: on theverge.com every Sunday morning or in newsletter form every Saturday. Subscribers get a full day’s head start. But David, you’re saying, I hate email. Who needs more email? I’m with you — I don’t like reading newsletters in my inbox either. But I have solutions!
- Many RSS readers, like Feedbin (link), Inoreader (link), and Feedly (link), give you an email address you can use to send newsletters like this one straight to the app. Personally, I do all my newsletter reading through Feedbin in Reeder (link) on iOS and Feeder (link) on Android, and it works great.
- You can also use a read-later app, some of which also offer email addresses. Matter (link) is a good one for Apple users, and Omnivore (link) and the (still-in-beta) Readwise Reader (link) work across lots of platforms.
- A lot of folks I know have an email address they only use for newsletters, which is probably the simplest and cheapest workaround. Or you can always break that AOL email out of retirement for just this purpose.
Oh, one other formatting thing. Wherever you see bold text and a “(link),” that’s something you can try, read, download, whatever — I’ll try and link directly to as many things as possible. I’ll also link related stories and information throughout, but click on a “(link)” and you’ll always go right to the good stuff.
Alright, enough of that. Let’s get to the good stuff. This week, I’ve been testing the Kagi search engine (link), reading about how to hack a card shuffler (link), getting back into Supernatural boxing (link) on the Meta Quest, watching and trying to figure out Full Circle (link), and binge-listening to the Spy Valley podcast (link). I also have a new note-taking app to tell you about, an animated show I think you’re going to like, and some tips on how to use my favorite new browser. Let’s go.
(Again, the best part of Installer is your ideas and tips. What do you want to know more about? What awesome tricks do you know that everyone else should? What app should everyone be using? Tell me everything: email@example.com. And if you know someone else who might enjoy Installer, forward it to them and tell them to subscribe here.)
This is where, every week, I’ll tell you about some of the best new stuff. Always new, always good, always worth checking out.
- Callsheet (link): I hate the IMDb app and the website with the huge banner telling you about the app. Callsheet is way better: a super-fast iPhone and iPad app for looking up cast and crew in whatever you’re watching, and JustWatch integration in case you wind up finding something more interesting to watch. (This was also by far the thing I heard most about this week — thanks to everyone who sent this in!)
- Strange Planet on Apple TV Plus (link): Nathan Pyle’s comic has been one of the best things on Instagram for years, and I’ve been really enjoying the new animated show as well. It has some Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman DNA, plus a little bit of Ted Lasso vibes? Oh, and even if you don’t have Apple TV Plus, you can still watch the first episode at the link.
- Goodnotes 6.0 (link): Goodnotes is my favorite cross-platform tool for handwritten notes, and it just got some really clever updates — including an AI tool that can learn your handwriting, correct your spelling, and even write longhand for you. Wild.
- Nerf Pro Stryfe X (link): My colleague Sean Hollister called this “the best official blaster ever made,” and trust me, Sean knows his stuff. It’s the first-ever official Nerf blaster to use half-length darts, and it’s modded for outrageous firepower. It’s $120 and up for preorder now, and I suspect you’re gonna want to get on the list quickly.
- The YouTube Effect (link): A new doc from Alex Winter about the whole story of YouTube. There’s good, there’s bad, Section 230 appears, and it doesn’t cover a huge amount of new ground, but it’s a really good dive into the nuances of the platform. (I also just got off a podcast recording with Winter, so look out for that on The Vergecast on Wednesday.)
- Shortwave for Android (link): Shortwave is one of the few email apps I think is onto something really right. It’s a bit like Google Inbox in that it’s constantly sorting and categorizing your inbox to make it work. The Android app is a little buggy in this first iteration, but it’s still one to try.
- Netflix Game Controller (link): Netflix has been pushing into gaming for a while now, but this is the most interesting development yet — it’s building a controller app that you use to play games on your TV. It seems super early and maybe wasn’t released intentionally at all, but keep an eye on this one.
- The Lego Concorde (link): I have two competing thoughts on all these incredibly cool new Lego sets. One is they are absurdly, preposterously expensive — this one is $200 and isn’t even the worst you’ll find. But the second is that I want them all so, so, so bad.
The internet is full of tips and tricks. Some of them are great! Most of them are useless. In this space, every week, we’re going to learn how to use our stuff better from the people who know best: the ones who actually make the products.
First up: Josh Miller, the CEO of The Browser Company, which makes a browser called Arc (link) that continues to be one of the most interesting new apps on the market. Arc is finally available for all Apple users to download (and he swears Windows is coming soon!), so I asked him for a few tips for new and newish users. Here’s what he came back with:
- “Create two Spaces — one for work and one for personal — and add a Profile to each to keep your email logins and data separate (church & state)!”
- “As you start pinning tabs, make sure you right-click to Rename each one to something short and sweet — you’ll be amazed how much cleaner and personal your internet feels.”
- “Drag-and-drop a tab on top of your open webpage to create a Split Screen setup instantly. Multi-tasking without multiple windows FTW!”
- “Next up, this one is for David — create a third space and call it ‘Media’ or something, and then use it with Arc Mobile as a read- and watch-later list. Keeps focus during the day, and a fun pile to go through on nights and weekends.”
- “Finally, and you’ll have to trust me on this since it sounds silly: please pick a fun Theme color for each Space, and use Boosts to change the fonts and colors of your most-used apps. Your internet is better when it reflects your vibe, not some corporation.”
Every week, I’m going to ask an interesting person to share their homescreen, plus a few things they’re into now. (Whose screen do you want to see, by the way? Let me know?) Our first guest: Nilay Patel, The Verge’s editor-in-chief and the person I know most likely to be paying for eight different music services for no particular reason. I was not disappointed.
Here’s Nilay’s homescreen, plus the apps he uses and why:
The phone: iPhone 14 Pro Max
The apps: Halide, Google Maps, Google Calendar, YouTube, Google Photos, The Verge (web app baby), Lightroom, Amazon, The New York Times, Slack, Kindle, Sonos, Instagram, Spotify (I never use this, why is this here), Lumen, Feedly, Apple News (I use News+!), Redfin (SIGH), Owl Strobe (this is a strobe light app for a record by the band Owls that I used for the limited edition Bluey record store day zoetrope dance mode record, and I have no regrets at all).
The wallpaper: the one true Max (my daughter)
I also asked Nilay for three things he’s into right now. Here’s what he said:
- I watched Twisted Metal (link) on Hulu by accident and then finished it because it’s purely ridiculous from start to finish.
- This TikTok (link) of someone building a bomber in Tears of the Kingdom with “Fortunate Son” playing and hashtag oil is a PhD thesis waiting to happen.
- I have a galley of Liar in a Crowded Theater by Jeff Kosseff (link), which comes out in October, and I think it’s one of the best books about free speech ever written. It’s like a series of increasingly complicated puzzles with no right answer.
I want to know what you’re into right now as well! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your recommendations for anything and everything, and we’ll feature some of our favorites here every week. Thanks to everyone who already reached out — here’s a few of the ones I got this week:
“I have yet to find a song recognition app for Apple Watch that works better than SoundHound (link). The thing I love the most about SoundHound is a feature I didn’t even know I wanted: live lyrics for the detected song on my watch. It’s really cool and useful, and I don’t think there’s a single app other than Soundhound that does it (including Shazam, owned by Apple!).” — Xyan
“My current obsession gadget is the System76 Launch keyboard (link). Thing is amazing, metal build, made in Colorado, works on every OS… and of course RGB.” — Lee
“For travel, I will recommend: Flighty (link) for live status of planes. This app saved us hours of pain in our recent trip to Europe where the budget airlines were changing terminals at the last second without informing us. Tripsy (link), a travel itinerary app I don’t know how I traveled without before. Just open the app and it will show you what you are supposed to be doing now, along with any documents that are required for it.” — Dev
“An app called Beeper (link) is a fully realized all-in-one messaging app based on Matrix that preserves the open-source nature of the protocol and its surrounding apps. It’s a startup by Eric Migicovsky, founder of Pebble. I just got early access last week, and it’s amazing, with even more potential.” — Luke
“A recent iOS app I’ve been loving is Sink It for Reddit (link), which greatly improves the Reddit mobile experience through Safari. After the loss of our beloved Apollo, I tried the official Reddit app. It was such a terrible experience, battery life took a massive hit, and everything felt so clunky. Sink It now feels by far the best way to experience Reddit. Anything to avoid their own horrendous app.” — Richard
Most of the stuff in Installer I hope will be cool and useful and make your life better. But just once, right here at the end, I need to tell you about the silliest, most unnecessary, most delightful things on the internet.
This week: My80sTV (link), a website that actually lets you watch TV from the ’80s on an ’80s-style TV. In your web browser. Sure. There’s a dedicated site for every decade since the ’50s! It’s great. But in reading about this on Reddit, I found my actual favorite source for classic TV: a two-hour video of the TV Guide Channel (if you know, you know) from 2003. There’s a whole genre of videos like this on YouTube! Why! Anyway, if you ever think you miss the way TV used to be, just flip this on for a while. Because you don’t.
Thanks again for being part of Installer’s first-ever issue. I’d love to hear what you think, what you want to see more of, and all the best stuff you see on the internet before next week’s issue. See you next week!