Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 10, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, hooray! I’m so happy you’re here, and also, you can catch up on all the old editions at the Installer homepage.) We made it through 10 weeks! It’s been so fun to make this every week and to talk to you all about the cool stuff you’re into. Thanks for being part of the Installerverse (we’re gonna make that a thing, it’s gonna happen), and as always, tell me everything you think we can do to make it better!
This week, I’ve been reading about Marvel’s plan to fix its TV shows and all the wild testimony from the Sam Bankman-Fried trial, making lots of deranged art in the improved Bing Chat, watching the David Beckham documentary and debating many new hairstyles, asking all the teens if they actually love LinkedIn, and blocking out my weekend to see the Eras Tour movie as many times as possible.
This week, I also have for you a new flip phone, a big Roblox release, a new messaging app, some sneaky browser hacks, and oh so many ways to keep track of all your media. And a deal on some truly rad Verge merch!
As always, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you want to get every edition in your inbox a day early, you can subscribe here.
This week’s a really fun one. Let’s get into it.
- Omnivore. One of the best (and free and open-source) read-later apps got a bunch of updates this week — better highlighting, better text-to-speech — but I’m really into the upgraded browser extension, which makes organizing much easier. I tend to save a billion things and then never find them again, so a good tags system is a game-changer.
- The Verge’s dbrand collab. Yes, this is brazen self-promotion, but I just got the skin I ordered, and honestly, it looks awesome. We worked with dbrand on phone cases, skins, chargers, and more. And just for this weekend, just for us in the Installerverse (I told you we’re making this happen), if you use the code INSTALLER, you’ll get 15 percent off everything dbrand sells.
- How Do We Fix It? “The Polarization Series.” I’m new to this podcast but have been enjoying the three-episode arc on the current broken state of American politics, how we got here, and where we go next. I took a particularly large number of notes on the episode about whether social media is to blame.
- Space OS. The idea is super compelling: a personal, private computer in the cloud that is completely yours and not subject to the whims of app providers and social platforms. The reality of “a private thing in the cloud” is way more complicated, but the team behind Space OS has some really interesting ideas about how it should all work.
- Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul. A three-episode dive into the spectacular rise and brutal fall of the biggest name in e-cigs. You can see bits of everything from Juicero to Theranos and WeWork in this story, and the doc tells it well. (Fair warning: I was interviewed for this, and I’m in it a bit, but you can just fast-forward past those bits.)
- The Motorola Razr. I think flip phones are the future of phones. I really do. And so I’m psyched to see Motorola showing up with a flip phone designed to manage your relationship with your phone, and most importantly, it’s $699.99 — a lot cheaper than other flip phones we’ve seen. (I’m even seeing it on sale for $599.99 right now.) Yeah, I wish it had a bigger outer screen, but it’s nice to have options.
- Roblox for PlayStation. A long-overdue release, if you ask me, but still a big deal, especially as Roblox tries to become a platform for all ages and all uses. Forget what Meta’s building; Roblox is the company most trying to make the metaverse happen.
- The Fall of the House of Usher. Mike Flanagan’s horror shows have been a Netflix staple in recent years, and his latest (and maybe last) sounds like a fitting finale: truly bonkers but ultimately a lot of fun. And bonus: plenty of critiques of modern tech-forward life.
- ActivityPub for WordPress. This is a huge deal: it means anyone with a site on WordPress.com, which is an awful lot of people, can now automatically syndicate their stuff to Mastodon, Pixelfed, and the rest of the fediverse. I’m all in on the open web future of social, and this is a big step in that direction.
- Lightroom Ultra HDR. This is the good kind of HDR, the kind that actually makes your photos crisper and more lifelike, and now Lightroom’s Android app can work with it natively on your phone. For now, Ultra HDR is just for Pixel phones, but in general, Lightroom is an excellent app and a great step up from your typical smartphone editing app. (Also, check out all the wild AI stuff Adobe showed off at Max this week. I know we talk too much about “what is a photo,” but seriously. Everything’s different now.)
Last week, I thought I’d try something I’ve been wanting to do for a while: see if we, as the whole Installerverse (it’s HAPPENING), could all work together to figure out the same thing. So I asked, what do you use to track all the stuff you want to read, watch, and listen to?