review

App Review: Audible Audiobook Player

by Michael Alderete on 11/5/2010 · 11 comments

If you search the App Store for “audiobook” you turn up hundreds of results, most of which are crap. (More on that in a future post.) Separating the wheat from the chaff can be a challenge. Aldo on Audiobooks will only bother to review worthwhile apps.

My favorite source for audiobooks is Audible.com, an online service offering over 85,000 digital downloads of audiobooks and other spoken word content (more here). This summer Audible released the Audible audio player app, dedicated to playing Audible content and interacting with the Audible.com service directly, without requiring the use of a computer or iTunes. The app is free, but requires the use of an Audible.com account.

Audible app

The short version of this review is, if you’re an Audible customer with an iOS device, getting this free app is a no-brainer. It’s intuitive and optimized for audiobooks, it plays in the background just like the built-in iPod app, it adds useful features not in the built-in iPod app, and its design is clean, simple, tasteful. I’ve used it exclusively for audiobooks for the last four months, and it’s a great replacement for the iPod app. I plan to continue using it indefinitely. I still use the iPod app for podcasts and non-Audible audiobooks, and regularly miss Audible app features.

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App Review: Recorded Books Audiobook Apps

by Michael Alderete on 1/13/2010 · 6 comments

If you search the App Store for “audiobook” you turn up hundreds of results, most of which are crap. (More on that in a future post.) Separating the wheat from the chaff can be a challenge. Aldo on Audiobooks will only bother to review worthwhile apps.

In my review of the Bookmark iPhone app, I noted that for the long tracks of an audiobook, the standard controls of the iPod app, optimized for 3 minute music tracks, can be frustrating. Bookmark is one solution to this issue. Another comes in the form of self-contained audiobook apps from Recorded Books.

Recorded Books audiobook apps

These audiobook apps are found in the App Store section of iTunes, rather than in the Audiobooks section. You are buying not merely the audio portion of the audiobook, but also an app that will play it back. Indeed, you can only play the audiobook from its dedicated app; you cannot use the iPod app, or Bookmark, etc.

These apps are the iPhone equivalent of the Playaway format: player and book baked into a single device. The idea is to make an audiobook as easy to use as a regular book — a single (physical, for the Playaway) object that you pick up and take with you, no other items needed. The self-contained audiobook app makes the experience of buying an audiobook, getting it onto your iPhone, and playing it simple and straightforward. In theory.

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App Review: Bookmark

by Michael Alderete on 12/21/2009 · 12 comments

If you search the App Store for “audiobook” you turn up hundreds of results, most of which are crap. (More on that in a future post.) Separating the wheat from the chaff can be a challenge. Aldo on Audiobooks will only bother to review worthwhile apps.

Bookmark is an alternative audio player dedicated to audiobooks, based on the insight that the iPhone is great for music, but not very well-suited to audiobooks. Bookmark was designed around the central concept that, when listening to a long audiobook, you want different controls for moving around in the much longer tracks, and tools for marking positions in the recording that go beyond just saving where you left off. Bookmark app If you’ve ever listened to a long audiobook track on an iPod, and especially if you’ve ever thought “I want to go back and hear that part again,” you know what this is all about.

Using Bookmark is simple. Start the app, choose a book from the list of titles (Bookmark filters out everything but audiobooks), and press play. In this regard, Bookmark is much like the built-in iPod app. The basics of playback are pretty obvious, with standard controls for play/pause, volume control, and track progress.

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