Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 32, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, happy weekend, and also, you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.) 

This week, I’ve been writing about AI search engines and the future of Disney Plus, reading about Anne Hathaway and Andrew Huberman and Jonathan Kanter, talking productivity apps with the WVFRM crew, continuing to watch every “how they made Dunevideo I can get my hands on, listening to the Black Box podcast, and learning what The Format is and how to apply it to every aspect of my life. 

I also have for you a bunch of new things to watch this weekend, a new AI voice notes app, a delightful new-old keyboard, an app for food tracking, some comedy podcasts, and a whole bunch more. Let’s get into it.

(As always, the best part of Installer is your ideas and tips. What are you into right now? What should everyone else be playing, watching, reading, whittling, looking at, or cooking this week? Tell me everything: installer@theverge.com. And if you know someone else who might enjoy Installer, forward it to them, and tell them to subscribe here.)

The Drop

  • Cleft Notes. I’ve been playing around with a lot of AI-powered voice notes apps, and this one might be the best yet. You just talk, and the app turns your unordered thoughts into nicely formatted notes — which you can always just toggle back into your transcripts.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow. Amor Towles’ book is an all-timer, and the show — starring Ewan McGregor as a count living under house arrest in a fancy hotel, I swear, it’s more exciting than it sounds — looks like it holds up pretty well. I might even pay for Paramount Plus for this. 
  • The Anxious Generation, by Jonathan Haidt. Remember that Atlantic story about the effect of phones and social media on kids that went mega-viral a couple of weeks ago? This is the book version. I don’t always like Haidt’s ideas or way of thinking, but so far, I’m taking this book just as a series of conversation starters about how to be a parent (and a kid, and a person) in the modern world. There’s a lot to chew on here.
  • Steve! (martin) a documentary in 2 pieces. This doc is three-plus hours long, which is a lot of time to spend with Steve Martin. But it’s Steve Martin! In a way, it’s a documentary all about how nobody really knows the main character, which is quite the conceit, but it’s still a deep look at a deeply funny dude.
  • SigmaOS. This is a browser full of interesting ideas about how browsers should work. Most recently, the company rolled out a bunch of AI features for searching and summarizing the web. As a person who publishes on the internet, it makes me feel a lot of feelings. As a user, it’s pretty useful. 
  • The Believers. A Netflix show about startups, religion, fraud, the power of marketing and belief, faking it till you make it, crimes, cops, more crimes, and more cops? Yes, I will be watching this on Netflix this weekend.
  • Spotify Courses. Every time Spotify launches a new thing, I have two thoughts. First, oh no, how is this going to further ruin the Spotify UI? Then, second, oh huh, I might actually use this. This week’s entrant: video and audio educational courses. It’s only in the UK so far, but I actually think I’ll use this if it comes my way. 
  • The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story. A full-on movie in a seven-minute short. The animation style in the Spider-Verse movies continues to blow my mind, and this story about anxiety and communication is a pretty powerful one. And it’s all for a good cause!
  • The 8BitDo Commodore 64 keyboard. Thanks to everyone who emailed last week after my plea about keyboards! I’m looking at silent switches and the Logitech MX Keys, but my heart already belongs to this $110 device: a retro beige keyboard with all the flair and customization it deserves.

Screen share

Jesse David Fox knows more about comedy than, I don’t know, probably anybody. He writes for Vulture (our Vox Media friends) about comedy; he wrote a book about comedy delightfully called Comedy Book; he hosts the very funny and sometimes very deep podcast Good One; and he just turned that podcast into a Peacock special that dropped this week called Good One: A Show About Jokes. It’s about Mike Birbiglia, who I love, but also about what it means to be funny and creative and just, like, a person.

I asked Jesse to share his homescreen, in part because I want to know if Comedy Apps are a thing but also to see how someone with his job — to constantly be watching, listening to, reading, discovering, talking about, and dissecting funny stuff — actually finds all that stuff. 

So here’s Jesse’s homescreen, plus some info on the apps he uses and why:

The phone: iPhone 13 Mini, but I don’t like it. I do like that it’s not that big, but I vow my next phone will not be an Apple.

The wallpaper: The lock screen is an Art Shay photograph. My homescreen is Joel Meyerowitz. Aren’t they nice? I saw them both at The Photography Show years ago.

The apps: Calendar, Photos, Camera, Apple Notes, Settings, Weather, Clock, SevenBell, Phone, Yelp, Peacock, Messages, Marvel Unlimited.

Generally, these are the apps I use and am fine using. Weather, Notes, Camera, and the podcast apps (I listen to a lot of podcasts to do research for Good One) are my most used. I check Slack and Instagram all the time but would prefer to make it more challenging for me to do so, so I need to search for them. 

Two apps have recently moved to the homepage: 1.) Peacock, so I can constantly play the Good One special to get the views up, and 2.) Marvel Unlimited. I recently started reading comics. There are certain MCU movies and shows I liked so much that I thought maybe I’d like the source. And I’m loving it! Love that Groot.

I also asked Jesse to share a few things he’s into right now. Here’s what he sent back:

  • Watch content. During the pandemic, YouTube radicalized me to be into watches. On TikTok, I was being served a lot of Pawn Stars clips, and I loved it. Then, I realized all the clips were actually on YouTube, and that way, I wouldn’t need to worry about TikTok destroying my brain. After a few weeks, I started running out of Pawn Stars clips and YouTube suggested Antiques Roadshow clips, which I loved. One of the most famous Antiques Roadshow clips involves an older army veteran receiving an absurd estimate on his Rolex, and I LOVED that. Maybe because I watched it a few times and sent it to people, YouTube started suggesting videos from Hodinkee and Teddy Baldassarre. Years later, now my Instagram feed is just pictures of old watches and shady characters making deals on watches I could never afford. (If you can afford and want my suggestion, please feel free to reach out.) I also have a lot of theories about a massive conspiracy involving all these content creators, so I’m mostly spending my time trying to unravel that.
  • Clips of the Mind the Game podcast. I like watching two people talk about something they both know a lot about, regardless if I am familiar with the subject. I watch and play basketball, but LeBron James and J.J. Redick’s new podcast is often beyond my comprehension. Still, I find it really enjoyable to see LeBron act like a big dorkus about the ways you try to guard an inverted pick and roll. That said, I can’t watch full episodes, because it is, in fact, too boring.
  • Newcomers. A podcast on the exact opposite end of the spectrum, Lauren Lapkus and Nicole Byer know nothing about what they talk about each season (currently, Batman movies), but there is something so endearing in how they support each other’s confusion and whimsical misreadings of the films they watch.
  • After Midnight and Dinner Time Live. I like comedians, and I like watching people cook, but what I enjoy most about both of these shows is how often things go wrong. Comedians mess up or intentionally break the rules, and After Midnight host Taylor Tomlinson kind of gets mad at them, but mostly everyone, including me, is laughing. On DTL, David Chang really messes up cooking so much more than is normal on a cooking show. And then, with the best episodes, the guests find ways to be agents of chaos in their own right. So much of late-night television is neat and organized. It is fun to see folks be relatively free.


Here’s what the Installer community is into this week. I want to know what you’re into right now as well! Email installer@theverge.com or message +1 203-570-8663 with your recommendations for anything and everything, and we’ll feature some of our favorites here every week. 

“Found a new macro tracker / food diary that I love — FoodNoms. It has the best AI feature I’ve seen in this category: it will guess at the approximate caloric / nutritional value of a meal, so if you go out for breakfast and don’t feel like trying to break down every ounce of that eggs Benedict, the app will help you get a ballpark estimate to add to your diary.” – Nick

“Addicted to playing ‘End of Beginning’ by Djo on loop and only just now found out that it’s by the side project of the cute floppy-haired guy from Stranger Things.” – Amy

3 Body Problem has consumed my week and my brain. Now that I’ve finished S1, I’m on to the audiobook, narrated by Rosalind Chao.” – Bud

“I’m currently building the Lego Technic Mars Crew Exploration Rover. It just dropped this month!” – Jeff

“Since you mentioned battle royales, Blizzard has just released a limited-time BR called Plunderstorm. It is accessible within the main menu of WoW, uses WoW assets and themes, but does not feature your player character and plays completely differently. It is the weirdest thing I’ve seen in ages.” – Sanjeev

Strategery for iOS. This game app especially shines on iPad where you can create larger battlefields. It’s almost meditative to play rather than stressful to lose like Risk, once you get the hang of it.” – Jake

Slice & Dice just shipped this week on Steam, and it’s totally worth checking out if you’re a fan of Slay the Spire. I’ve been playing an early version on itch.io for a couple of years, and fair warning: I had to uninstall it because I was playing it too much. So I guess I would nominate this for The Uninstaller?” – Ron

Dragon’s Dogma 2 had been occupying my brain space all week. It’s a marvelous mix of fantasy adventuring and a chaos simulator, with spectacular results. Also, Giant Bomb has an ongoing show called Blight Club in which they take turns playing the most notoriously bad games ever made and cosplay as characters from them. It’s hilarious, nostalgic, and also heartbreaking as they struggle with busted games.” – Bobby

“I used to watch everything from Marvel, but I don’t think I’m the only one who lost interest in the MCU. As a longtime Spidey and X-Men fan, I now scratch my Marvel itch with games. Card games for mobile and one for desktop. Marvel Snap is quite fun, and you can play (and win!) without spending money. Midnight Suns is also amusing but a bit bloated. But hanging around with the heroes between missions is nice. Make mine Marvel!” – Jasper

Signing off

Roughly once a year, I stumble across an NPR Tiny Desk video, realize Tiny Desk is the best thing on YouTube, and then spend a few days or months watching dozens of them. (This time, it was Justin Timberlake’s recent appearance that got me rehooked.) To me, this is everything delightful about the internet, all in one place: it’s both low-tech and really well made, silly and intimate, and still super professional, and it honestly feels like I’m in the room with Olivia Rodrigo or the cast of The Lion King or Usher. And yes, obviously, of course I watch the Taylor Swift one every single time I get into it again.

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