A better way to take video on your phone


Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 40, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, send me all your recommendations immediately, and also you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.) 

This week, I’ve been reading about Shein and Reese Witherspoon and Hollywood Ponzi schemes, journaling in Papery, testing Lazy for all my link dumps and notes, drinking a lot of Poppi soda, developing a mac and cheese recipe my toddler will actually like, and pricing out plane tickets for the Wu-Tang Clan listening party in Australia.

I also have for you a great new app for capturing video, a nifty new Chrome trick, a MoviePass documentary worth watching, a smartwatch for kids, and much more. It’s a short week, so we have a relatively light one but still plenty of good stuff to talk about. Let’s go.

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

The Drop

  • Kino. The team at Lux doesn’t really miss. They made Halide for photos, the nifty Orion iPad monitor tool, and now Kino, a video app that is somehow both really simple and absurdly powerful. I love a good noir filter. (I got a lot of recommendations for this one this week — thanks to everyone who sent them in!)
  • The Fitbit Ace LTE. This smartwatch is for kids, but… I want one. It has some fun games designed to get you moving, a really charming bunch of colors and accessories, and a surprising amount of power inside. Don’t love the $230 price, but love just about everything else.
  • Jim Henson Idea Man. I don’t know if it’s just that I have a toddler who’s obsessed with Sesame Street and the Muppets, but even the trailer for this Disney Plus doc made me cry. It’s a story about creativity and wonder and is full of fun behind-the-scenes Muppets stuff.
  • Carrot 6.0. Some really fun updates to the most fun weather app! I like the new layouts and data viz stuff in particular, and the game-mechanic robot gardener feature is charming but not really my thing. Still: more silliness in weather apps, you love to see it.
  • Jon Bellion on The George Janko Show. This episode has been all over my For You page on TikTok, with Bellion explaining how the Ticketmaster / Live Nation monopoly works and the overall business of being an artist in 2024. Really interesting listen. 
  • Chrome’s Minimized Custom Tabs. A terrible name for a really clever product: basically, picture-in-picture for a browser tab that makes the whole in-app browser idea much more seamless. It’s only Chrome for Android for now, but Google says it’s hoping every browser supports the feature, and I hope so, too.
  • Trip Tunes. Large language models turn out to be really, really good at making playlists. This app is only for iOS and only for Apple Music, boo, but I love the whole mixtape-y aesthetic and that you just tell it where you’re going and the mood you’re in, and it fills the ride with music. 
  • The Nomad Tracking Card. I had an AirTag in my wallet for a while, but it was just a little too big. I’d much rather just slide this into the card slot since Nomad says it’s only as thick as two credit cards. The battery apparently lasts five months and charges via any MagSafe charger.
  • MoviePass, MovieCrash. I mentioned this last week, but figured I’d re-up now that it’s out. It’s really good! I covered MoviePass a lot, and I still learned a lot about how this company took off — and how it failed so spectacularly and so quickly. (Also, more on this coming on Tuesday’s Vergecast, so keep an eye out.)

Screen share

You know those people you hear on podcasts all the time and you’re, like, best friends even though you don’t know them and have never met them? For me, Sean Rameswaram was one of those people until very recently. He’s one of the co-hosts of Today, Explained, the wonderful daily news show from our friends over at Vox — and over the last couple of months, they’ve let me guest host a few times! (We did a really interesting episode this week about storm chasers and extreme weather if you want to take a listen.)

Anyway, Sean’s one of those people who seems to be interested in everything, always, all the time, so I wondered what his homescreen would reveal about what he truly cares about most. Here it is, along with some info on the apps he uses and why:

The phone: I had an iPhone SE (the original one) for six or seven years. Retiring it reminded me of an episode of Married… with Children — the one where Al Bundy had held onto his car so long that the manufacturer was going to hook him up with a new one on the house for hitting 1,000,000 miles. I wondered if I qualified for a similar deal for sticking with the original SE for a Senate term but never asked. I eventually replaced it with an iPhone 13 Mini. I don’t like the big phones. It looks like there’s an iPad in your pocket.

The wallpaper: It’s Leo hailing a cab in NYC with a no-hands whistle. He’s done it a few times in the movies, too — most recently in Killers of the Flower Moon. For more years than I care to remember, I’ve wanted to learn how to belt one. I think living in New York City for half a decade was the impetus. I’ve tried to sit down and master it a few times but almost passed out from shortness of breath. Recently, I found out it’s a months-long learning process. I keep Leo as my background to remind myself to figure it out before I die.

The apps: WNYC, Calendar, NYTimes, KCRW, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, YouTube, Calculator, Seek, Yelp, Chrome, Camera, Weather, Apple Music, Slack, Settings, Mail, Instagram, Photos, Clock, App Store, Podcasts, Google Maps, Spotify, Radio Garden, Phone, FaceTime, Messages, WhatsApp.

I promise I don’t organize my books by color, but I couldn’t help it with my apps. In the four corners, we’ve got my main squeeze: audio (née radio). Radio Garden is the most unbelievable (and admittedly underused) on the page. It enables you to spin around the globe and listen to thousands upon thousands of live radio streams. It’s the cheapest vacation you’ll ever take. Shouts to Breakmaster Cylinder for the intro.

The rest of this screen is pretty stock and self-explanatory, but I want to single out Seek and all apps like it for helping us identify bugs, birds, plants, and trees. This is the future we were promised.

Has anyone else used this weather app? It’s constantly wrong.

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

  • I was lucky to do a decent amount of traveling this past year, and I was constantly looking for restaurant recommendations online. Eater’s “38 Essential Restaurants” was consistently the best curator. Since the Eaters are colleagues of mine, I had the chance to ask their publisher, Amanda Kludt, why they always shoot for 38. She said, “It’s just a great number.” Fair!
  • I swear I like things that aren’t produced by Vox Media, but have you played Cinematrix? I hit the Vulture homepage every morning because I’m a geriatric millennial who still appreciates a homepage. When I first saw Cinematrix, I thought it was cute but didn’t make it a habit. Then one day, a dear old friend texted me and my brother his grid, and we were all immediately hooked because — duh — it’s a social game. It’s a daily conversation starter and a really fun ritual when you’re doing it with other people. My personal Cinematrix universe has since expanded with a few colleagues. We’re all feeling very Vulture blue-pilled.
  • Am I the first person to plug a strip show on Screen Share? No, because Magic Mike Live is not what you’d expect. Sure, there was a butt, but it was mostly a rapturous and liberating celebration of sexuality, consent, and some really impressive six-packs. Remember when you were watching the original movie, and all of a sudden, you were blown away by how good a dancer Channing Tatum was? This is that, on steroids. Maybe literally. Dare to skip the Sphere the next time you’re in Vegas and hit the Sahara for MML instead. Or at least try and do both.

Crowdsourced

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 me on Signal — @davidpierce.11 — with your recommendations for anything and everything, and we’ll feature some of our favorites here every week. For even more recommendations than I could fit here, check out the replies to this post on Threads

“My go-to phone games are Flipflop Solitaire and Retro Bowl (both of which are available through Apple Arcade). Retro Bowl is a fun riff on Tecmo Bowl, and Flipflop Solitaire is a fun twist on solitaire, which I play a lot when I’m killing time and don’t want to get sucked into social media.” — Jared

“​​TV Launcher is an awesome utility that gives a full TV guide, which can deep link into most streaming apps and open the exact channel automatically. It basically turns my Apple TV into a full-blown replacement for a cable box.” — Bilaal

“Kinda controversial but Yann LeCun & Musk trash talking on Twitter. Also, I ended up re-reading a bunch of Yann’s old papers because why not.” — Kruti

“After searching for years for the best open-ear earbuds that allow me to roam about outside without endangering myself by blocking out traffic or other noise or blocking out the voices of my family when I’m at home, I was pleased to discover that they exist and are sometimes on sale for even less than their list price of $50.” — Christopher

“This week’s The Jeff Gerstmann Show (hosted by this week’s surprise host: Jeff Gerstmann, joined by guest Arthur Gies) was full of insight on the upcoming summer gaming events.

Always recommend Jeff’s work during this time of year.” — Paul

“The greatest game ever made: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.” — Max

“Watched The Fall Guy, which was honestly a treat for anyone who has worked with / around / or on movies in general just from the variety of stunts showcased. It hit streaming early due to fairly mediocre box office performance.” — Amanda

“I am addicted to Threes. I don’t know if anyone plays it anymore, but I love it so much. I played those ‘free versions’ for so many years I can’t even remember now.” — Kruti

DaisyDisk. Like WizTree and SequoiaView but for Mac and a really nice-looking UI.” — Sinan

“Been playing three years’ worth of Destiny 2 campaigns after they were included in PS Plus. The game is hilariously lacking in onboarding for return players, but even just sticking to solo story missions, there’s a staggering amount of content from the (IMO) best FPS studio to ever do it.” — Jonathan

Signing off

It’s important to me that you know how hard I try not to talk about Dune: Part Two every week in this newsletter. I want to talk about it all the time! But did you know Dune: Part Two is streaming now? Which means, if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it — and then watch this awesome video about its sound design and this other awesome video about its sound design and this great interview with Hans Zimmer about the score and this truly epic scene breakdown with Denis Villeneuve and this great chat with cinematographer Greig Fraser and all of the 50,000 other eye-opening YouTube videos about this terrific movie. My YouTube recommendations have been basically all Dune for two months, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.





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