App Review: Swell

With the advent of smartphones, we have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. Unfortunately, these days, it seems a lot of that “knowledge” is stuff we may not be interested in (like the latest Miley Cyrus “drama”). Now, with Swell (available for iOS now and Android soon), use your smartphone to actually get smarter and connect to what you care about.

Swell is basically like Pandora for audio content. You can choose particular topics from a menu, search for content you already know you like, or just let the app bring you content that you can either listen to or skip. It learns your interests, then starts introducing you to a more diverse amount of content that fits into your listening preferences.

The app is easy to use, and starts bringing you content instantly, which is great for people like me who have a hard time starting from scratch (overwhelming choices lead to paralyzing fear). This also gives you the opportunity to get hooked into a topic, show, or podcast you’d never seek out on your own. To start off with a more customized playlist, I’d recommend connecting the app to your Twitter account (if you have one), as Swell uses data from your Twitter stream to help create your beginning content. It also utilizes the topics you enter and your skip/play history to learn what you like as you continue to use the app.

I also enjoyed Swell’s default “news update” feature, a short newsbreak that plays at the beginning of each session and after every couple hours of the content you choose. You’re informed of the latest breaking news and other world happenings while you listen, so even if you’re away from Twitter or your favorite news website, you’ll still be up to date. Of course, you’re welcome to skip these news updates when they begin to play, choose a preferred news provider, or skip news updates on your playlist all together.

The best part about Swell, though, is how the continual play and constant stream of content makes you feel more educated and connected to the world. Even when content came up that I eventually decided to skip, I still learned something I didn’t know before. Download Swell and try it out—if you’re like me, its functionality and intelligence will win you over.