Bluesky is the hottest new(ish) thing on social networks

Hello friends! Welcome to Installer No. 25, your guide to the best and Edge-st things in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, so excited you found us, and also you can read all the back issues on the Installer Homepage.)

This week I watched Mr and Mrs Smith (which is great) and Argylle (which is not the case), about reading the technology versus media wars, AI-created fake IDsAnd multi-billion dollar arenasdebate Cancel Amazon Primeand try it out Crouton for managing recipes and shopping lists.

I also have for you Google’s new AI tools, a new social network, a better look at Google Docs, a new weather app worth checking out, and much more. Let’s dig in.

(As always, the best part of Installer are your ideas and tips. What are you into now? What should everyone be doing right now? Tell me everything: installer@theverge.com. And if you know someone else who might like this too Installerforward it to them and ask them to subscribe here.)

  • Blue sky. The cool kids’ club of social media is now open to everyone! And as any site must do, it promptly crashed in some big and funny ways as people started pouring in. It’s still a fairly new service, but it has a lot of really smart ideas about social media – I love the way it handles custom feeds and usernames in particular.
  • Google Gemini. Good news: Google has heard your complaints Installer is too heavy for iOS apps and has released the new Gemini app exclusively on Android. (In your face, iOS.) Google’s AI chatbot also got a new name this week, and Google also released its new and supposedly much more powerful model, Gemini Ultra, to the public.
  • Why ‘Shot On iPhone’ Commercials Look So Good! This video moves so fast that I had to check my settings to make sure I wasn’t accidentally set to 2x. But it’s a great look at the state of camera gear, a fun interview with an experienced filmmaker, and a life lesson: understanding your tools is more important than getting “better” tools. Deep!
  • The Ring Battery Doorbell Pro. Not the cheapest Ring doorbell out there, nor the most powerful, but this seems like the Goldilocks model: more accurate sensors, all the features you want, super easy to install. However, I agree with my colleague Jennifer Pattison Tuohy: the basic look of the Ring needs a new design.
  • craft. Craft is basically what Google Docs would be if someone at Google wanted to make Google Docs easy to use. And this lovely little note-taking app just got some really nice collaboration features that make it even more useful. Craft is still a bit clunky for my taste, but it is a very well made app.
  • iCloud for Windows. Big week for iPhone-owning Windows users! The iCloud app has gotten a major update, Apple Music and Apple TV are no longer in “preview” mode, and it all just works better. And the best news? You’ll never have to use iTunes again.
  • Tokyo Vice. This is such an underrated show. I didn’t really get it at first, but it has an intense, relentless energy that kept me hooked. Reviewers seem to think season 2 is even bigger and better, and I’m excited to dive back in.
  • The Weather Channel App. You know, I love a weather app, and the new one from TWC is a huge upgrade: it looks much nicer, has lots of alerts and personalization (I’m worried a lot about the UV index at the moment, not so much about air quality), and some nice news integration. But only for iOS for now, and I still hate the icon. I need to fix that icon.
  • Physical media hits back with Tim Simons. From the very good podcast The big picture, this is almost 90 minutes of talking about Blu-ray organization, boxset tips, what it means to own a movie, the changing entertainment industry, and much more. As a proud owner of exactly zero DVDs, it made me want to start a collection.
  • MGIE. Lest you think Apple is sitting out the generative AI revolution, here’s something cool: a model designed to perform image operations just by describing them. “More blues!” “Move that thing over there!” “Make my face less bad!” Not a real product yet, but a very cool idea.

This is the 25th edition of Installer! It’s our silver anniversary. With this newsletter you can now rent a car. Very fast, Installer will begin his quarter-life crisis.

First of all, thank you to everyone who read, subscribed, and recommended these first 25 issues! This was so much fun, and the Installerverse community has decimated my phone storage and increased my screen time in the best ways possible.

Second, it’s time to do something I want to do every 25 issues, which is share my own home screen! If Installer’As a lead tester of new things, I’m constantly experimenting with new apps, new widgets, and new ways to use technology. So I guess I should tell you how it’s going every now and then.

So here’s my home screen, as it looks now:

The telephone: iPhone 15 Pro.

The wallpaper: A photo of my wife and son on the lock screen, the same photo blurred on the home screen. For some reason I find it aesthetically weird to have two different photos, but I also don’t like having a super visible background that hides all the icons. So this basically works.

The apps: Google Maps, Day One, Weller, Readwise Reader, Unread, Sofa, Phone, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Camera.

My dock contains the four categories of apps I use most, but the apps in it change depending on what I’m testing or pretending will make my life better. Right now the messaging app is ordinary Apple messagesthe notes app is NotePlanthe calendar is Minimal (which I just discovered this week thanks to Christopher Lawley), and so is the browser Find a bow.

I use an icon pack from Ruffsnap, which I especially like! It doesn’t cover every app I use, so I’ve had to use some icons for other apps; you’ll notice that this isn’t the Day One icon, for example. But I like the custom icons because they look nice and also because these shortcut bookmarks cannot contain badges. The only apps allowed to have badges are the social, chat, and email apps in the Comms folder. (Content consists of news apps, games, that sort of thing.)

This has been my homescreen vibe for a few weeks now, and it works pretty well! But I’ve been looking for a better calendar widget (why does everyone make such ugly calendar widgets?!), and I’m already eyeing another note-taking app. Please send help.

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.

“If you are looking for a display to show your calendar, I recommend you take a look at it ROOF board. More than a calendar, a lot of different things, and cheaper: monitor and Raspberry Pi for less than $150. And it’s worth the five dollars a month; fun to build and integrate with so many other services.” –Doug

Skylight is fantastic. For my mother. Because it’s simple. Buy yourself the largest 720p TV or monitor you can for your space, a Raspberry Pi, and use the ROOF board project. It will change your life.” – Jeremy (Two DAKboard recommendations! Guess what I’m doing this weekend…)

Griselda! Just like every other narco show I’ve seen, but the fact that everyone is Colombian and actually speaks Spanish adds a lot to me. – Ema

“I’m late, but it’s worth mentioning on the topic of ‘how do I get my news’: WhatsApp channels! I discovered this feature about two months ago and have been using it daily since then. I follow certain channels that I like (NYT, WJ, sports-themed, even celebrity-themed, etc.), and their top stories end up on the WhatsApp channel that I follow as if it were a group chat with my friends. – Santiago

“I don’t know if this counts, but my friends and I are playing StarCraft II again. There is co-op available, and we just noticed that.” – Bunch

Radiant is a really nice, customizable Mastodon client for iOS. It is free to use, but also has a reasonable upgrade. And Elk is also a great Twitter-like web app for Mastodon.” – Harvey

“There is a range of apps that ‘Not boring.’ A range of apps that look absolutely beautiful, with beautiful graphics and amazing haptics. I especially love the Weather app because messing around with the icons is great.” –Arjun

“I received the Analog weekly planner from Ugmonk for Christmas, and I used it in combination with a Field Notes memo book. I take notes from meetings in Field Notes and put important weekly tasks/deadlines in the Analog Weekly planner.” -J

“I use a free iOS app called ScreenZen to regain control of my phone usage. Crucially, it helps you quell the compulsion by setting a countdown screen before opening an app, rather than just informing you of your usage at the end of the day. Other app blockers do this, but what’s special here is what it calls Pause Groups, so you can set different rules for different apps, websites, categories, etc. Pair these Pause Groups with Focus Modes and Shortcuts, and you’ve got some pretty powerful stuff. ” – Zak

“What about Libby app? I’ve been using it since 2017. It’s free, you just need a library card to use it, and I love it because of the audiobooks it has.” – Pooja

This weekend is the Super Bowl, which means about a hundred million Americans and I will be camping out in front of the TV for about fourteen hours straight on Sunday. Here’s a life hack: As always, most of the best Super Bowl ads are already online, so you can watch them now and then use the in-game commercial time for things like naps and drink refills.

And here’s a fun game to play: as you look at the ads, try to figure out which ad will bring a celebrity to justice, like all those crypto ads did a few years ago. Who will appear in court this year over an AI advertisement? I have a few suspicions.

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