The portable speakers you need this summer

Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 44, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, so psyched you found us, and also you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.) 

This week, I’ve been writing about why I love the Boox Palma, reading about hot dog contests and the history of Markdown and the future of streaming, watching Shoresy and Federer and a lot of soccer (it’s been a very sports-y week), mourning the end of the Longform podcast, developing a strange obsession with salt water taffy, retesting the Apple Vision Pro, and trying every method I can find for making good iced coffee at home.

I also have for you a couple of great new Bluetooth speakers, the new season of Hulu’s best show, an app for turning everything into audio, and much more.

Also, quick housekeeping news: no Installer next week. It’s a holiday here in the US (and also my birthday), so I’ll be outside grilling things and getting sunburned. But keep sending recommendations, and we’ll be back with a big one right after.

(As always, the best part of Installer is your ideas and tips. What do you want to know more about? What awesome tricks do you know that everyone else should? What app should everyone be using? Tell me everything: And if you know someone else who might enjoy Installer, forward it to them and tell them to subscribe here.)

The Drop

  • The UE Wonderboom 4. A few weeks ago, I said the best speaker advice I can give you was to buy a UE Wonderboom. I stand by this, especially now that there’s a new one that charges with USB-C! The new Everboom, with a built-in carabiner and some extra sound oomph, is very tempting, but you can’t beat this for $100.
  • The Beats Pill. More new speakers! I have a weakness for a nice-looking portable sound system, and the new Pill looks pretty great. Chris Welch likes how it sounds, and I love that it does wired audio and charges other gadgets through the USB-C port. Beats did well here, even if I’m still Wonderboomin’.
  • Verge apparel. I really try not to shill for Verge stuff too much here, but I’m genuinely psyched about the new stuff we’ve been working on. I’m into the hoodie in particular, and the (finally properly sized) mug. Retooling our store has been a fun project, and I hope you like the stuff, too!
  • Death of the Follower & the Future of Creativity on the Web.” I always like hearing Jack Conte talk about the internet and stumbled on this SXSW talk in which he basically explains how “follow” and “subscribe” changed the world — and how we need to change it again. 
  • ElevenLabs Reader. ElevenLabs does AI voices better than any product I’ve ever seen and built this iPhone app (with Android coming soon, apparently) in a really clever way. You just share any article or book or PDF to the app, pick a voice, and it’ll read it aloud. 
  • Blackmagic Camera for Android. There is a truly annoying lack of great third-party camera apps for Android, but this is a good one, with lots of manual controls and instant feedback. It’s only on a few phones for now, but I’ll take what I can get.
  • Notion Sites. This is a small but very clever thing: build a Notion page and, with one click, publish it to the web. If you want, like, a one-page personal website or a quick and easy event page. This is way easier than just about anything else out there.
  • The Bear season 3. I agree with everyone who’s annoyed that Hulu dropped this season all at once instead of a week at a time — drag it out, give us time to obsess over it! That said, I will be watching every second of it this weekend. And then rewatching all three seasons as soon as I’m done.
  • Figma Slides. Figma got some really big updates across the board this week: a redesign, a bunch of AI stuff, and more. But Slides is particularly cool. It’s a mix of design tool and presentation tool, and it looks a whole lot more fun to play with than PowerPoint.

Screen share

I think the first Sara Dietschy video I ever saw was the one where she perfectly explained How To Casey Neistat a Vlog. (That title, by the way, is like a perfect 2016 time capsule, and I still miss that era of YouTube.) Since then, she’s become one of my favorite creators, talking about everything from cameras to creativity to cars to just… life. And more recently, as a new parent myself, it’s been really cool to watch her go through so much of the same stuff as is happening in my house.

I asked Sara to share her homescreen with us, curious to see how she was balancing life stuff with creator stuff. Both are really demanding, and we’ve all only got one homescreen, you know? Turns out, there’s a bit of both in there — but mostly life stuff.

Here’s Sara’s homescreen, plus some info on the apps she uses and why:

The phone: iPhone 15 Pro.

The wallpaper: My wallpaper is always a rotation of cute baby pics. She is my entire life right now. I mean, look at her… right? I love widgets so I always have stonks I’m watching and the weather front and center.

The apps: Phone, Clock, Settings, Camera, Photos, Drive, Amazon, Blackmagic Camera, YouTube, Tesla, DoorDash, Apple Notes, Google Authenticator, Vivint, WhatsApp, Nanit, Messages, Hatch Baby, Safari, Gmail.

My homescreen is reserved for the apps I use multiple times every single day. 

The to-do widget is from the Things app — where all of my to-dos go to die 🙂 But at least they’re super organized.

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

  • Blackmagic Camera. An AMAZING camera app that allows you to shoot Apple Log at a reasonable file size. (Shooting Log in Apple’s camera will leave you with massive ProRes HQ files.)
  • Apple Notes. I recently scaled down my team and have been obsessed with the speed and simplicity of Notes over Notion, which I used to religiously use. Now, Notion is only used for projects I’m working on that require other people. 
  • Nanit. The best baby monitor of all time. The feature-heavy app makes the overpriced hardware worth it. The PiP works perfectly, and you can monitor the baby monitor audio in the background while you’re listening to a podcast or music.
  • I am so into 3D printing right now. It has led me to a lot of “maker” YouTube channels. I am currently binge-watching Adam Savage’s Tested channel.


Here’s what the Installer community is into this week. I want to know what you’re into right now as well! Email 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. And for more great recommendations than I could fit here, check out the replies to this post on Threads.

“Seeing chess in Installer made me think of another great chess game! Really Bad Chess by Zach Gage is apparently really good for my brain. It’s available on iOS and Android with an in-app purchase, and it’s free if you pay for Apple Arcade!” – Harvey

“I’m sad that more people don’t know about “17776” and “20020,” stories from the far future about football and sapient satellites.” – Lego

“I just finished Temptation of the Force by Tessa Gratton. It’s the latest novel in the Star Wars: The High Republic storyline, and these continue to be some of my favorite books of the last 10 years, definitely in the Star Wars universe. They’re set a few hundred years before the movies, and I’d recommend them to any fan.” – Justin

“Starting to cure a pancetta and capicola using Umai Dry vacuum bags. I don’t have a great place to cure and dry meats in our city home, so it’s nice to be able to do it in the fridge. Bonus: I get to use the new vacuum sealer my family got me for Father’s Day!” – Timothy

“Anil Dash wrote up two posts on what a board of directors does, and it’s fascinating! Required reading if you’re into how corporate governance works.” – Richard

“I’ve been getting into sideloading. It’s amazing what you can get with a developer ID and the cracked iPhone apps that are out there.” – Dawit

“I cannot stop playing Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor on PC. In this roguelike, you’re a dwarf mining precious minerals and battling hordes of bugs on an alien planet. It’s ridiculously fun, easy to pick up, and the weapon and skill systems are ​thoroughly satisfying to navigate.” – Abhimanyu

“A while back, I went through the same journey you seem to be on: ‘I want a Light Phone, but… what if I just turned my iPhone into a Light Phone?’ The option I like most is building my own with Widgy Widgets. It’s a very powerful app that allows you to build your own widgets. It’s not intuitive and it has way more power than I’d ever need, but it’s amazing to build your own Light Phone.” – Tom

“I’m about halfway through Adrian Tchaikovsky’s new sci-fi book, Service Model, and it’s a great story about AI and our reliance on technology. Can’t put it down!” – Sighjinks

Signing off

Before we go to bed, my wife and I sit down almost every night to watch something together. Sometimes we talk through the whole thing, sometimes we watch the show, sometimes we sit and stare at our phones the whole time. It’s nice all three ways! I suspect a lot of people have their wind-down shows, but allow me to tell you about ours: The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network. (Well, now Max, but you know what I mean.) It’s like a cooking show meets The Amazing Race, there are 16 seasons — and season 17 starts this weekend! — and it’s all silly and fantastic. My wife and I have developed several hundred food truck ideas while watching the show, too, which is also very fun. 

If you’re in need of a new show to watch forever without working your brain too hard, check out the food trucks. (And if you have other shows like this I should watch, please let me know. We’re caught up on food trucks, and it’s a problem.)

Have a great holiday to all those celebrating. See you in two weeks!

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