Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 14, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, you’re my favorite, so happy you’re here, and also, you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.)
I also have for you a rundown of the best tools for managing money, new gadgets from Valve and Humane, way too many writing apps, new stuff from ChatGPT, and much more.
As always, the best part of Installer is your ideas and tips. What are you into right now? What have you been reading / watching / learning / doing that everyone should know about? Tell me everything: [email protected]. And if you know someone else who might enjoy Installer, forward it to them and tell them to subscribe here.
Big week in the Installerverse! Let’s get to it.
- The Steam Deck OLED. Valve did a Nintendo! Which is to say, it took its already very good console and made a bunch of things about it — the screen, the fan, the battery life, the processor — a little better. I’m definitely going to end up buying this thing.
- The Humane AI Pin. Every gadget company has been asking the same question for the last few years: “what comes after smartphones?” So far, it’s… smartphones. Humane’s first AI-powered device doesn’t immediately strike me as the next big thing, but I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to actually try a new gadget. Is this the future? Is it anything? Who knows!
- GPTs. You can now create your own ChatGPT with whatever knowledge, character, and style you want, and it only takes like five minutes. I’m much more bullish on these smaller, more specific AI tools than I am the One True AI Machine idea, and I think these are going to be huge. (Also, seriously, kudos to OpenAI for brute-forcing the phrase “generative pre-trained transformer” into the mainstream.)
- Planet Earth III. The first episode of the third entry in the world’s most epic documentary series is out now in the US, and there are a bunch more episodes to come. The drone footage, the natural sound, the things the producers are able to do underwater and in the sky, it’s all just awesome to watch. (Also, stay tuned for some fun Planet Earth stuff coming to The Vergecast soon.)
- Aftermath. A new publication from some great video game reporters who are already off to a strong start covering Zelda, the Steam Deck, Overwatch, and much more. I love a good website, and so far, this is a very good website.
- Final Cut Pro. Every once in a while, Apple likes to remind Final Cut users that it remembers they exist and does in fact care about them. The big winner this time (and this year in general) is the iPad app, which got a bunch of handy keyboard shortcuts, workflow tricks, and a useful voiceover tool.
- The Marvels. A Marvel movie that both rewards superfans and manages not to confuse everyone else! What a concept! This movie has been somewhat divisive, but The Verge’s Charles Pulliam-Moore dug it, and I’m excited to see this one.
- Documents by Readdle. The Files app on iOS devices is so bad. Its organization makes no sense and moving stuff around is too hard. It’s just bad times all around. Readdle’s app has long been a better option, and it got a big update this week — which includes an inbox that just dumps all your files into one place. It’s messy and perfect.
- Elon, Inc. I’m not at all sure that a weekly podcast about the many chaotic goings-on of the world’s richest person is something I even want in my life, but Bloomberg is doing it really well. It’s chatty but thoughtful, and even the first episode covers a lot of ground.
Last week, I asked you to share what systems you use for managing money. With the news that Mint was shutting down (which, ugh), I think a lot of people were left suddenly looking for a new way to easily keep track of their budget and spending. I figured y’all might have some good ideas. (The Verge’s Barbara Krasnoff also put together a list of Mint alternatives, and it’s a really good place to start.)
Once again, you came through! I got a ton of emails, texts, and mentions with good ideas for apps and systems for making this all work. Also, a lot of people who are very cranky with Mint, and trust me, I feel you on that.
One note before we get into it: you should, of course, be careful about where you manage your money and financial information and to whom you give access to any of that data. Many of the apps we’re about to talk about are popular and highly regarded, but you should always be cautious with this stuff. My credit score also once got dinged because I had signed up for too many personal finance apps — true story — so there are lots of reasons to be thoughtful here.
Cool? Cool. Let’s run through some of your ideas and findings:
- YNAB is the big winner. YNAB, which stands for You Need A Budget, was the overwhelming most popular recommendation I got this week. Folks liked that you can sync all your accounts and cards, that it’s an independent app you pay for instead of being bombarded by ads and credit card deals, and that it has a specific set of principles and systems you can just pick up and start using.
- Copilot is the other go-to. Copilot is much more polished than YNAB, and people love the app’s design, its dataviz tools, and just how easy it is to interact with. It’s only for iOS and Mac, which is unfortunate, but as finance apps go, it seems to be unbeatably fun to use.
- There are a lot of apps worth a look. Other apps you recommended, in rough order of popularity: Qapital, Buddy, Empower, HomeBank, Expenses, Quicken, EveryDollar, Nudget, Ledger, and Dime.
- Don’t sleep on spreadsheets. I heard from a number of people who said they’d tried the apps and built the systems but ultimately landed on a good ol’ spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets for tracking their spending. Especially for folks who just want a rough “here’s what I have, here’s where I want it to go” outline, you can’t beat the ‘sheet. (Is that a thing people say? I’m going with it.)
- Templates are your friend! A few people recommended Tiller as a way to make the Excel and Google Sheets setup a little cleaner and more automatic. This Notion template got some love, too.
- The manual way can be the way… but it’s more work. Some of you love having custom-built systems that you can tend to for a few minutes a week, and there’s certainly no beating “it’s just a file on your computer that you own.” But almost everyone who recommended this strategy also said it’s a lot of work and can be too easy to give up on.
- Or maybe just use your bank. A lot of banks now offer budget tools from right within your banking app, so you can manage your money right next to where it lives. (I hear good things about SoFi’s features on this front.) If you do most or all of your banking in one place, a few folks said this is the way.
Personally, after reading all your notes and doing some research, I’m going to give Copilot a run. I’ve tried YNAB in the past, and it’s great, but I just did a bad job keeping up with it. I’m also going to make an epic 2024 budget spreadsheet and see how far that gets me.
Kevin Nguyen, a deputy editor at The Verge, warned me when I first asked him to do this that he had four different writing apps on his homescreen. To which I said: sold, bring it on, we love an obsessive homescreen setup.