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Tips on how to use widgets and wallpapers to revamp your cellphone

Hello, associates! Welcome to Installer No. 6, your information to the perfect and Verge-iest stuff on the earth. (For those who’re new right here, to start with, hello, hey, welcome, and second of all, you’ll be able to learn all of the previous editions on the Installer homepage.) 

This week, I’ve been watching the wacky sci-fi collection Command Z from Steven Soderbergh, updating all my browsers to repair a scary safety concern, studying and listening to Cory Doctorow rage in opposition to Massive Tech, cackling at this video concerning 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 preserving your loved ones on schedule, some enjoyable AI, and Graham MacAree’s severely minimalist homescreen.

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

The Drop

  • The iPhones 15. It’s been a couple of days for the reason that Apple occasion, and I’m nonetheless undecided 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 high quality for one more yr, however should you do improve, know that I’ll be at the very least 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 preserve 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 cellphone calls / voice dictation / every time your wi-fi headphones’ battery dies. The brand new ones will work along with your cellphone, laptop computer, work pc, and principally all the things 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 turned a NASA flight engineer and went to the Worldwide Area Station. (He was additionally apparently the primary particular person to tweet in Spanish from area, which is a really cool and really particular factor to trace.) A feel-good film for the weekend if that’s what you’re searching for.
  • The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Girls Astronauts. Talking of nice area tales, Bloomberg reporter (and Verge alum!) Loren Grush wrote an incredible e-book concerning the six ladies who helped increase and alter the American area program and the large quantity of sexism and pushback they acquired within the course of. Grush was additionally on our Decoder podcast this week, too — it’s an excellent hear.
  • Elon Musk. Massive 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 critiques, lots of which say the identical factor: Elon Musk is a deeply difficult particular person, positively a sensible particular person, possibly not an excellent particular person, and it’s positively price asking laborious questions on our current and future.
  • Spotify’s Daylist. Essentially the most fascinating query within the music enterprise proper now could be this: how do you differentiate your self when all people 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. Thus far, mine have been deeply bizarre — I awakened the opposite day to “mountain music indie folks thursday morning,” which, positive — however I actually dig the concept.
  • Steady Audio. I’m presently deep down the rabbit gap of AI music-making instruments (for a Vergecast episode coming Monday!), and Steady Audio is without doubt one of the extra spectacular instruments I’ve seen. It comes from Stability AI, which additionally makes the image-generating Steady Diffusion, and works principally the identical approach: describe the music you need 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 positively not a full-on Monster Hunter recreation on your cellphone. And The Verge’s Andrew Webster discovered it a bit missing in depth and technique. However what it’s — a real-world recreation like Pokemon Go through which you combat monsters and accumulate gear whilst you wait in line on the grocery retailer — continues to be fairly compelling.
  • Artifact Hyperlinks. An important style of app to me is the Puttering App, the one I can simply open and scroll by means of for a couple of minutes at a time within the hopes of discovering one thing enjoyable / fascinating / helpful. Twitter was kinda that, Instagram and Reddit are nonetheless kinda that, and Artifact needs to be precisely that. The news-reading app now enables you to put up any URL on the internet, and already, I’m discovering tons of fine stuff following a couple of good folks.

Professional suggestions

It’s the time of yr when all of a sudden I discover myself hating my cellphone. 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, reasonably than purchase a brand new cellphone to satiate that urge, I’m going to strive giving my cellphone a makeover. 

For recommendation, I turned to Isaac Mosna, who you would possibly know higher as Canoopsy on YouTube and across the internet. He makes nice tech movies but in addition creates wallpapers, icons, and extra cool cellphone stuff. I requested him to share a couple of tips about the best way to higher customise your cellphone in order that mine would possibly look as cool as his does:

  • Begin contemporary. “Take all the things off your homescreen, put it within the app library, after which begin dragging issues over. It’s a good way to begin contemporary with out actually beginning contemporary should you’ve had the identical cellphone for some time.”
  • Have only one option to do issues. “Attempt going with a really minimal setup. Don’t have your digital camera within the dock since you need to use the Management Middle. Android and iOS each could make your cellphone easier, simpler to make use of, and extra pleasant. Nobody likes to see 1,000 issues after they flip their cellphone on.”
  • Hold it altering. “Discover methods to cycle by means of completely 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 cellphone on, it’s a good way to have a brand new cellphone each time.”
  • Embrace area. “On Android, it’s very easy to go away empty spots on the display. On iOS, you need to use issues like Clear Areas to have clean areas or put all the things on one aspect of your cellphone the place your hand naturally rests.”
  • Conceal your widgets. “With Clear Areas, you can even make widget stacks the place you’ve got 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 suppose with a number of homescreens. Both put all the things 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 a complete dialogue within the Verge newsroom about what number of apps all of us 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 could be a really minimalist homescreen.
Picture: Graham MacAree / The Verge

The Cellphone: An iPhone 13 Professional. That is the primary cellphone I’ve owned that I really take pleasure in utilizing … ish.

The Apps: Everybody’s on WhatsApp in England, so I solely really want one chat app. Gmail, Messages, and Authenticator are all pretty normal. 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 cellphone as a result of it’s app-only. My Roomba helps preserve my home “free” of canine hair, after which Pokémon Dwelling 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 cellphone display). Spotify will get used lots, as does Chrome. Having give up Twitter and Fb, I don’t have any social media apps in the intervening time, however I’m generally briefly tempted by Bluesky.

Basically, I’m precisely the appropriate age to have discovered to do all the things on my pc as a substitute of my cellphone, 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 is able to be {a photograph} of my kids, however I’d reasonably 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 gasoline cloud, which hides some extremely huge/shiny stars. Additionally, my dad took the {photograph}, in order that’s neat, too.

As at all times, I additionally requested Graham to share a couple of 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 numerous 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 concept of getting again into Warhammer 40,000 as a result of portray tiny folks / monsters / tanks appears doubtlessly enjoyable. Proper now, that concept manifests itself as watching different folks paint tiny folks / monsters / tanks, which is certainly enjoyable. Will I ever progress to doing this myself? Who can say.


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

“A number 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 cellphone that persistently will get me wanting up from the display and shifting towards what I need to be doing.” — Min-Taec

“Presently hooked on enjoying Finity on Apple Arcade.” — Scott

“Calculator apps are boring and haven’t seen any innovation, till Numbr! It’s a notepad blended with a calculator, and I’ve used it solely as my calculator for a number of years. It’s primarily an online app, however there’s additionally a useful 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 harking back to Neko Atsume and a little bit of Animal Crossing rest.” — Evelyn

“Subscribed to Tessie. Permits my Apple Watch for use as a Tesla key just like my cellphone. Undecided the best way 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 particular day and add the elements to the grocery record. I may also join the calendar with different Outlook calendars so I’ve non-public and work calendars in sight. Moreover, we are able to share notes and footage 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 instance, I’ve a 20-second respiration train intervention setup when opening up social media apps on my cellphone, and it received’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 throughout the day or throughout small ready intervals 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 should you don’t need the fixed subscription.” – Andrew

“The brand new Digital 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 a substitute of counting on Rotten Tomatoes for questionable film rankings, use Letterboxd. As a bonus, a few of the critiques 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 elimination appear to be a murals.’ Honesty and humor. Cooks kiss. ” — Brandon

Flight Radar 24 is great. 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. Often, you get navy jets or huge flight diversions. This week, I discovered the SIN-JFK longest flight on the earth goes over my guardian’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 hire, scooters you pay for by the minute after which throw into the river if you’re accomplished — I like all of them. And I can’t keep in mind the final time I fell for a scooter like the brand new Honda Motocompacto. It’s totally impractical in each approach — 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 need to toodle round my neighborhood on this factor in a approach you wouldn’t consider. Extra bizarre scooter design, please! 

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