After starting life as a social podcast platform from the founders of HipChat, Swoot is not only being renamed Podhero but its main mission is also changing. Getting recommendations from your friends is still part of the experience (if you want it to be), but the app is now a subscription service that divides what you pay among all the podcasts you listen to. According to the developers, 97% of podcasts don't make money, so this is their attempt to solve the problem and help podcast producers get paid.
The service costs as little as $4.99, with all of it going straight to the creators whose content you consume, plus there's an optional $1 charge on top of that for those who also want to support the app's developers (which seems fair). By default, your money is split equally between all the podcasts you're subscribed to, but you can choose to not support some while remaining subscribed if you so wish. You also don't have to use the Podhero app to listen to your podcasts — once you've imported your subs, you're free to continue using your usual app for playback.
Nothing much has changed in terms of the UI, but it does seem that there was little or no warning to existing Swoot users that the service would be changing to a paid subscription model. Even so, it's a worthy cause, especially at a time when content creators of all kinds are struggling to be remunerated for the entertainment they provide during what is undoubtedly a trying economic time for all. There are currently more than one million shows supported by the platform, from 30+ countries, but if you spot one that isn't included, you can let Podhero know and they'll get it added. Creators can also get in touch to claim their show and start receiving revenue.
You can choose not to support certain podcasts if you haven't listened to them in a while.
I've been more than a little frustrated with the poor UX decisions made by the Pocket Casts team in recent version updates, so I'd be up for switching to the simpler Podhero were it not for one significant oversight — there's no cast function. Add that, and they could be on to something.
Podhero is free to try for 30 days (although you do have to add your credit card details) and then $4.99 or $5.99 thereafter, depending on whether you want to support the devs as well as the podcast creators. You can cancel at any time, and you'll be reminded three days before your free trial ends.