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Sunday, December 3, 2023

How one can use widgets and wallpapers to revamp your telephone

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Hello, buddies! Welcome to Installer No. 6, your information to the perfect and Verge-iest stuff on this planet. (In case you’re new right here, to begin with, hello, hi there, welcome, and second of all, you may learn all of the {old} editions on the Installer homepage.) 

This week, I’ve been watching the wacky sci-fi series Command Z from Steven Soderbergh, updating all my browsers to repair a scary safety concern, reading and listening to Cory Doctorow rage towards Large Tech, cackling at this video about the state of the Hyperloop, attempting the Endel app as work music as a substitute of my all-day film soundtracks playlist, and slowly cleansing up my digital camera roll with some assist from Swipewipe.

Additionally this week, I’ve for you a bunch of latest Apple gear (stunning, I do know), two books price studying, an app for holding your loved ones on schedule, some enjoyable AI, and Graham MacAree’s severely minimalist homescreen.

(As all the time, the perfect a part of Installer is your concepts and suggestions. What do you wish to know extra about? What superior tips have you learnt that everybody else ought to? What app ought to everybody be utilizing? Inform me the whole lot: installer@theverge.com. And if you wish to get each concern of Installer a day early in your e mail inbox you may subscribe here.)

The Drop

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  • The iPhones 15. It’s been just a few days since the Apple event, and I’m nonetheless unsure whether or not I’m excited concerning the iPhone 15 and 15 Professional. I just like the titanium on the Professional, the digital camera, and that it’s lighter! And yay, USB-C! However that’s… kinda it. I feel my 14 will do me simply fantastic for an additional yr, however in the event you do improve, know that I’ll be a minimum of barely jealous.
  • Apple’s USB-C EarPods. Now these, I’m unequivocally into. I’ve spent years telling everybody to simply purchase a pair of EarPods and maintain them in your bag — they’re $19, their sound high quality is meh, however their mic high quality is improbable, and so they’re tremendous helpful for telephone calls / voice dictation / each time your wi-fi headphones’ battery dies. The brand new ones will work together with your telephone, laptop computer, work pc, and principally the whole lot else. I already purchased two pairs.
  • A Million Miles Away. Amazon’s newest authentic film is predicated on the story of José Hernández, a migrant farmworker who grew to become a NASA flight engineer and went to the Worldwide House Station. (He was additionally apparently the primary individual to tweet in Spanish from house, which is a really cool and really particular factor to trace.) A feel-good film for the weekend if that’s what you’re in search of.
  • The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts. Talking of nice house tales, Bloomberg reporter (and Verge alum!) Loren Grush wrote an awesome e-book concerning the six girls who helped increase and alter the American house program and the massive quantity of sexism and pushback they obtained within the course of. Grush was additionally on our Decoder podcast this week, too — it’s a superb pay attention.
  • Elon Musk. Large week for tech books, apparently! I confess I’ve not but cracked Walter Isaacson’s 688-page tome, however I’ve been devouring excerpts and reviews, lots of which say the identical factor: Elon Musk is a deeply difficult individual, undoubtedly a wise individual, possibly not an excellent individual, and it’s undoubtedly price asking laborious questions on our current and future.
  • Spotify’s Daylist. Essentially the most attention-grabbing query within the music enterprise proper now’s this: how do you differentiate your self when everyone has all the identical content material? The factor Spotify does finest is ultra-personalized playlists, and Daylist is an ever-changing, AI-curated one which supposedly matches your temper all day and night time. Up to now, mine have been deeply bizarre — I awoke the opposite day to “mountain music indie folks thursday morning,” which, certain — however I actually dig the thought.
  • Stable Audio. I’m at the moment deep down the rabbit gap of AI music-making instruments (for a Vergecast episode coming Monday!), and Secure Audio is likely one of the extra spectacular instruments I’ve seen. It comes from Stability AI, which additionally makes the image-generating Secure Diffusion, and works principally the identical means: describe the music you wish to hear, and some seconds later, it seems. Nothing I’ve made to this point goes to high charts anytime quickly, however it’s an extremely enjoyable factor to play with.
  • Monster Hunter Now. That is undoubtedly not a full-on Monster Hunter recreation to your telephone. And The Verge’s Andrew Webster discovered it a little lacking in depth and strategy. However what it’s — a real-world recreation like Pokemon Go wherein you combat monsters and gather gear whilst you wait in line on the grocery retailer — remains to be fairly compelling.
  • Artifact Links. An important style of app to me is the Puttering App, the one I can simply open and scroll via for a couple of minutes at a time within the hopes of discovering one thing enjoyable / attention-grabbing / helpful. Twitter was kinda that, Instagram and Reddit are nonetheless kinda that, and Artifact desires to be precisely that. The news-reading app now lets you post any URL on the net, and already, I’m discovering tons of excellent stuff following just a few sensible folks.

Professional suggestions

It’s the time of yr when immediately I discover myself hating my telephone. There are new telephones popping out, new variations of Android and iOS available, cool new options and apps and simply a lot new stuff to play with! However this yr, moderately than purchase a brand new telephone to satiate that urge, I’m going to attempt giving my telephone a makeover. 

For recommendation, I turned to Isaac Mosna, who you may know higher as Canoopsy on YouTube and around the web. He makes nice tech movies but additionally creates wallpapers, icons, and extra cool telephone stuff. I requested him to share just a few recommendations on methods to higher customise your telephone in order that mine may look as cool as his does:

  • Begin recent. “Take the whole lot off your homescreen, put it within the app library, after which begin dragging issues over. It’s an effective way to begin recent with out actually beginning recent in the event you’ve had the identical telephone for some time.”
  • Have only one technique to do issues. “Strive going with a really minimal setup. Don’t have your digital camera within the dock since you should use the Management Heart. Android and iOS each could make your telephone easier, simpler to make use of, and extra pleasurable. Nobody likes to see 1,000 issues once they flip their telephone on.”
  • Hold it altering. “Discover methods to cycle via totally different wallpapers, like by setting an album as a substitute of a single image. Whether or not it’s one thing that adjustments each hour or each time you flip your telephone on, it’s an effective way to have a brand new telephone each time.”
  • Embrace house. “On Android, it’s very easy to depart empty spots on the display screen. On iOS, you should use issues like Clear Spaces to have clean areas or put the whole lot on one aspect of your telephone the place your hand naturally rests.”
  • Cover your widgets. “With Clear Areas, you too can make widget stacks the place you may have the clean widget in your homescreen after which swipe to one thing else — it’s like a hidden drawer of widgets. It’s fairly enjoyable.”
  • One homescreen. One. “I can’t assume with a number of homescreens. Both put the whole lot else within the app library or drawer or categorize issues into folders in your homescreen.”

Display screen share

Final week, after I requested Jennifer Pattison Tuohy to share her homescreen, it sparked an entire dialogue within the Verge newsroom about how many apps we all had. Most individuals, not surprisingly, had lots!

Graham MacAree, a senior storytelling engineer right here at The Verge, didn’t have lots. He had 22. And even that, he determined, was too many. So I figured, in a time of latest telephones and new software program and normal technological maximalism, I’d see what life was like alllllll the best way on the opposite aspect. 

Right here’s Graham’s homescreen, plus some information on the apps he makes use of and why:

Now that may be a actually minimalist homescreen.
Picture: Graham MacAree / The Verge

The Telephone: An iPhone 13 Professional. That is the primary telephone I’ve owned that I truly get pleasure from utilizing … ish.

The Apps: Everybody’s on WhatsApp in England, so I solely actually need one chat app. Gmail, Messages, and Authenticator are all pretty commonplace. I’ve discovered Citymapper to be higher than Maps at serving to me navigate London’s numerous transit outages, and I reluctantly use Uber when stated outages inconvenience me an excessive amount of.

Monzo is a British financial institution, and it’s on my telephone as a result of it’s app-only. My Roomba helps maintain my home “free” of canine hair, after which Pokémon House lets me proceed my extraordinarily low-key quest for a residing Pokédex. MLB is for when the Seattle Mariners are enjoying whereas I’m out and about (dwell sports activities are principally the one issues I’ll watch on a telephone display screen). Spotify will get used lots, as does Chrome. Having stop Twitter and Fb, I don’t have any social media apps in the mean time, however I’m typically briefly tempted by Bluesky.

Basically, I’m precisely the best age to have discovered to do the whole lot on my pc as a substitute of my telephone, and I’ve by no means up to date my habits in gentle of the truth that I dwell within the twenty first century. If I exploit one thing greater than as soon as a month or so, it lives on the homescreen.

The Wallpaper: Usually, this may be {a photograph} of my kids, however I’d moderately they not be on-line. I quickly switched my wallpaper to a cool image of Sharpless 132, which is about 10,000 light-years away. It’s principally an infinite fuel cloud, which hides some extremely huge/brilliant stars. Additionally, my dad took the {photograph}, in order that’s neat, too.

As all the time, I additionally requested Graham to share just a few issues he’s into proper now. Right here’s what he shared:

  • Dancing! I’ve begun choreography for an Argentine Tango recital in November, in order that’ll occupy various my life over the close to future. I’ve been dancing severely for nearly three years now and do performances about twice a yr. It’s nerve-wracking however enjoyable.
  • Portray movies. I’m enjoying round with the thought of getting again into Warhammer 40,000 as a result of portray tiny people / monsters / tanks appears doubtlessly stress-free. Proper now, that concept manifests itself as watching different folks paint tiny folks / monsters / tanks, which is certainly stress-free. Will I ever progress to doing this myself? Who can say.


Right here’s what the Installer group is into this week. I wish to know what you’re into proper now as nicely! E-mail installer@theverge.com together with your suggestions for something and the whole lot, and we’ll function a few of our favorites right here each week. 

“Quite a lot of my life, on-line and offline, is captured on Futureland — a journal / routine organizer / tracker hybrid that may be a bit laborious to elucidate however feels splendidly natural in observe. One of many few quiet, satisfying locations on the web, and the one app on my telephone that constantly will get me trying up from the display screen and transferring towards what I wish to be doing.” — Min-Taec

“At present hooked on enjoying Finity on Apple Arcade.” — Scott

“Calculator apps are boring and haven’t seen any innovation, till Numbr! It’s a notepad combined with a calculator, and I’ve used it completely as my calculator for a number of years. It’s primarily an internet app, however there’s additionally a handy Chrome extension, and all of the syntax is defined on their Github.” — Ross

“I’ve been OBSESSED with Usagi Shima, a bit bunny-collecting chill island recreation with vibes paying homage to Neko Atsume and a little bit of Animal Crossing leisure.” — Evelyn

“Subscribed to Tessie. Permits my Apple Watch for use as a Tesla key much like my telephone. Undecided methods to really feel about it, however it’s been tremendous handy!” — Chris

“My spouse discovered the app FamilyWall — it’s our frequent app for recipes, meal planning, contacts, budgets, and bucket lists. What I like is that the app connects issues: after I enter a recipe, I can plan the meal for a selected day and add the substances to the grocery checklist. I may join the calendar with different Outlook calendars so I’ve personal and work calendars in sight. Moreover, we will share notes and photos and make particular person timetables.” — Chris

One Sec. This app primarily means that you can arrange a delay (known as an intervention) when opening specified apps. For example, I’ve a 20-second respiratory train intervention setup when opening up social media apps on my telephone, and it gained’t let me entry the app till that train is full. I’ve discovered it very helpful in getting my consideration after I mindlessly open up social apps through the day or throughout small ready durations like ready for a espresso. It’s a subscription app for iOS and Android (Android is a beta), however it’s fairly low-cost, and so they have a one-time license in the event you don’t need the fixed subscription.” – Andrew

“The brand new Camera app from Blackmagic, plus their cloud integration in order that a number of cameras can all add to Davinci on the similar time.” — Iestyn

“As an alternative of counting on Rotten Tomatoes for questionable film rankings, use Letterboxd. As a bonus, a few of the opinions for the actually dangerous motion pictures are tremendous enjoyable. The Flash, with 2.7 stars out of 5: ‘the cgi on this film makes superman’s mustache removing appear to be a murals.’ Honesty and humor. Cooks kiss. ” — Brandon

Flight Radar 24 is fantastic. Wish to know the place that jet overhead is headed? Pop open the app and activate AR for a dwell overlay. I even have all emergency alerts as silent notifications. Sometimes, you get navy jets or large flight diversions. This week, I came upon the SIN-JFK longest flight on this planet goes over my mum or dad’s home.” — Sean

“I’m actively listening and altering my ringtone and notification sounds with those launched by iOS 17. They’re so good!” — Gabriel

Signing off

I’m obsessive about scooters. Scooters you purchase, scooters you lease, scooters you pay for by the minute after which throw into the river whenever you’re carried out — I really like all of them. And I can’t bear in mind the final time I fell for a scooter like the brand new Honda Motocompacto. It’s utterly impractical in every way — solely 12 miles of vary, weighs over 40 kilos, appears to be like like a large floppy disk on two wheels, prices $995 — however I wish to toodle round my neighborhood on this factor in a means you wouldn’t consider. Extra bizarre scooter design, please! 

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