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How to listen to audiobooks on iOS

Kirk McElhearn | Aug. 28, 2015
You've got several options for listening to audiobooks on your iOS device.

Audible’s app

Audible’s iOS app can serve as your only audiobook app. It displays your library; all the books you’ve bought from Audible, and which are stored in the cloud. It shows you books you’ve downloaded to your device within the Audible app. And it even lets you play audiobooks you’ve synced to iTunes, but only if you bought them from Audible.

The Audible app also lets you choose chapters, but only from cloud or device content; not with books you’ve synced via iTunes.

If you do buy books from Audible, you’ll probably find their app the most practical, since it does give you access to your entire library. You can still sync files from iTunes, but the cloud feature makes it much easier to use, and you may never need to sync.


How about a third-party app for your audiobooks? The $4 Bookmobile plays all kinds of audiobooks. (There’s a limited, free version you can try out; after that, a $4 in-app purchase unlocks all the app’s features.) In addition to playing any that you’ve ripped yourself, it can also play audiobooks with DRM sold by Audible or Apple.

Bookmobile is a mighty flexible app. While it’s interface is a bit hard to get used to, you can use it to change the playback speed with more granular settings than iBooks or the Audible app, skip ahead or back by minutes or seconds, and there’s even a driving mode, with simplified playback controls for use in the car.

Bookmobile can play books you’ve synced to iTunes, or you can use iTunes File Sharing to add files to it directly. You can also add books from Dropbox or other cloud services, and download them from web URLs. Finally, Bookmobile also plays podcasts, but that’s a topic for another article...

One more thing

While Apple has moved audiobook playback to the iBooks app, you can still play your audiobooks in the Music iOS app, at least at the time of this writing (iOS 8.4.1). In iTunes on your Mac, simply add your audiobooks—ripped, Audible, or iBooks Store—to a playlist and sync that playlist to your iOS device. Open the Music iOS app, and select that playlist; you’ll be able to play any audiobooks it contains.

You’ve got several options for listening to audiobooks on your iOS device. Try them all out and see which works best for you.


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