Balatro: the ultra-complicated card game that will take over your weekend

Hello friends! Welcome to Installer No. 27, your guide to the best and Edge-st things in the world. (If you’re new here, hello, you’re awesome, and you can also read all the back issues at the Installer Homepage. Oh, and send me some recommendations! The more the merrier!)

This week I played Assassin’s Creed Nexus on the Quest 3, which you read about obsessive window makers And Noah Kahan’s journey to TikTok superstarfinally watch Dune so I can be ready to see the sequel, and finally watch it Patriotand desperately trying to learn how to make crispy Brussels sprouts.

I also have a mega-viral new camera for you, a better way to manage your smart home, a new book about Twitter, and a whole bunch of great games to play this weekend.

And I have a question. What’s your favorite food-related stuff on the internet? I’m talking about recipe apps, cooking blogs, creators you like, shows you can’t get enough of, those crazy people who only cook furiously bad things, whatever. We’re going to be covering a whole food internet thing here in the coming weeks, and I want to know everything you like. (Thanks to Michael for suggesting this too. This will be super fun!)

(As always, the best part of Installer are your ideas and tips. What are you currently reading, playing, watching, charging, transmogrifying, or building? Tell me everything: installer@theverge.com. And if you know someone else who might like this too Installer, or if you’d like to get it in your inbox the day before it hits the web, subscribe here.)

  • Balatro. About two-thirds of the internet seems to be interested in this game right now: a roguelike poker game where you use special cards to upgrade your hands and build your deck to solve puzzles. It’s complex and delicious. (This was through far the most popular recommendation this week — thanks to everyone who submitted it!)
  • The Fujifilm X100VI. The sequel to the internet’s favorite camera is here, and it’s beautiful. (Obviously.) The big news this year seems to be that you might be able to get your hands on one – and early reviews seem to say it’s as good and fun as ever.
  • Elle Cordova. I sent Cordovas”Inventions hang around‘ video to about half the people I know this week. Maybe you have their “Fonts hanging around‘ series too. This is my kind of comedy.
  • The Amazon EchoHub. It says so much to me that this should even exist: a $180 special device for controlling all the things in your smart home that not require you to constantly unlock your phone or shout at a voice assistant. Tests! Single-purpose devices! You’ll love it!
  • ButterDocs. I am So in this: a Google Docs-like collaborative writing app that also has some really useful sketching and note-taking app features, like backlinking? Yes please. $100 per user per year is… a lot, but there are some really cool ideas in this app.
  • Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 6. If you like racing, you’re already watching this show. But even if you don’t care about F1, cars or racing, the sheer human drama here is just spectacular (and at least… mostly real). And if you watch it and get really into F1 like me, then give me a call. Let’s talk about McLaren.
  • Battle for the Bird. Even more Twitter books! This one is a great addition to Zoë Schiffer’s Extremely hardcore. Kurt Wagner has a lot of Elon Musk drama, of course, but he also spends a lot of time on the pre-Musk era on Twitter, especially Jack Dorsey’s very strange leadership style and legacy. There is some overlap between the two books, but I enjoyed both.
  • Share everything spatially. A crowdsourced database of spatial videos and panoramas that allows Vision Pro and Quest 3 users to explore and view cool stuff. It’s like scrolling through a travel-heavy Instagram feed, but all the photos are huge.
  • Sonos co-founder John MacFarlane on how I built this. Sonos is such a strange company: it’s based in a beach town in California, has bucked so many of the normal trappings of tech companies, and has just kept chugging along. But there’s still a lot of drama, much of it unresolved, in this story. (I’m digging too HIBT‘s new AI series so far.)
  • Signal usernames. Signal is trying to get past the phone number, because phone numbers are both incredibly useful and incredibly problematic things to use as usernames. You’ll have to download the beta for now to get a username, but you should! And tell me: I’m Davidpierce.11.

Francesco D’Alessio may be the only person on earth who has used more productivity apps than me. He has a website, Tool finderdedicated to the best among them and constantly reviewing new things on the Stay productive YouTube channel too.

I asked Francesco to share his home screen because, in part, I wanted to see if he uses a lot of to-do list apps. (Unfortunately.) I also wanted to see what had actually stuck with him; if you use new things all the time, it’s a big deal when something actually becomes part of your life and routine. So everything on Francesco’s home screen really had to earn its place.

Here’s Francesco’s home screen, plus some information about the apps he uses and why:

The telephone: iPhone 15 Pro.

The wallpaper: A photo of my wife and little ones, blurred, as I check out a lot of productivity apps.

The apps: Spotify, Camera, Amazon, Apple Health, Huckleberry, Whoop, Messages, Todoist.

People expect me to have every productivity app. I’ve reviewed over 750 in the last 10 years. I use very little. I think people think that sometimes the car salesman drives all the cars. I do that too, but I stick to a few basic things. That’s really the key to productivity apps.

  • Blueberry is a genius app that my wife and I use to manage our six-month-old baby – we used it with our now four-year-old to manage sleep, nap predictions, and feeding patterns. As new parents we were tired and sharing the load, so it was nice not to have to wake each other up every time we did feedings etc and to see everything in one place. This is as hacky as I get as a parent. Lifesaver.
  • I used Hoop for two years, then had a year’s break, and now I’m using it again. The impact of knowing how your body works in the background is insane. I use it daily to really identify how I can improve routines, sleep quality, and follow new habits. This is my ultimate productivity app.
  • Todoist: I have been using it for over 10 years now. Ideas, thoughts and links are stored here in one base. Just a special place for me to constantly manage the workload.

I also asked Francesco to share a few things he is currently working on. This is what he sent back:

  • The Money Lab. I love this podcast. Mat [Giovanisci] is back to talk about his company and its marketing efforts. Very interesting.
  • Models of Ferraris. I started a collection of model Ferrari F1 cars from recent years, some from the 1950s to the 1980s. I am building a nice collection.
  • Weight training. My co-founder of Tool Finder taught me how to lift weights, and since then I’ve been doing it routinely two to three times a week, so great to see progress.
  • Sleep. I enjoy this very much. Now it takes some getting used to with two little ones.

This is what the Installer community is busy this week. I also want to know what you are doing now! E-mail installer@theverge.com or drop us a line at 203-570-8663 with your recommendations for anything and everything, and we’ll feature some of our favorites here each week.

Pocket card jockey on Nintendo Switch is one of the best versions of solitaire.” –Steve

“99% invisible has a deep dive podcast on The power broker with a new episode every month. It is a biography of Robert Moses, ‘the man who built New York’, and also offers an interesting look at why the city is the way it is. The introductory episode features Conan O’Brien.” – David

“I’m coming up on my 600th consecutive day of playing a round or two It’s literally just mowing. Yes, I’m in my fifties.” – Jeff

Street fighter 6 is on sale, and I bought it because it has a new control scheme that feels more responsive Smash Bros. with standardized movesets so you don’t have to learn individual combos. I don’t think you can use every special move this way, but it’s a lot easier on ramp since I haven’t played since SFII.” – Ian

“That Borderlands trailer…” – Matt

“I’ve been going old school lately Fruit Ninja. The difference between the free version on my child’s Fire tablet and the Classic Plus version in Apple Arcade is astonishing. No ads, no in-game currency pushing, nothing but PLAYING THE GAME. REVOLUTIONARY.” – Martin

“This week on the pod you made a comment about smart watches being just a giant computer on your wrist – which I completely agree with. Although Garmin has one (the Vivomove trend) in their current line-up, that looks really nice! I really like how they integrate the LCD screen into the watch.” – Daniel

“A new season of a British quiz show has started The 1% club starts up, and it tests your logical skills with puzzles and abstract thinking. A really nice performance!” – Bob

“Everyone has a week to play (or replay) the game. Final Fantasy VII remake before the new one comes out.” –Andrew

Apple has launched a new app, Apple Sports, this week, which I find completely fascinating. It’s either something simple with a good idea – just tell me the score of the game and let me get on with my life – or a signal that Apple is ready to delve very deep into the world of sports. And perhaps the gambling world. But we’ll see where it goes.

However, at the moment, Apple Sports is missing a lot of things. That gives me a good excuse to tell you about my favorite “just tell me the score” thing: Sports in plain text. It’s ultra-simple, lightning-fast, shows scores and stats from anywhere, and leaves you alone. I have it bookmarked everywhere on every device (always on dark mode), and I can’t recommend it enough.

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