Various Ways to Play Audiobooks on iOS Devices

I love reading. I’ll devour any books that I like, and I dare to try books that I’ve never heard of that others recommend. But due to the increasing activities in my life, I have less and less reading time. Add the combination of age and eyes to the mix, and now it’s more uncomfortable to read in the nighttime – the only spare time I have each day. That’s how I started my journey into the audiobook realm.

Many of my friends can’t hide their confusion every time I tell them that I listen to books. For a society that still associates books with visual activity, the audiobook is a weird concept. Several disadvantages hamper the adoption rate of audiobooks. Here are a few that come to mind.

  • Audiobooks take some time to get used to.
  • Not all books are available in the audio version.
  • You can’t speed up, slow down, skip, or go back to a part of your listening easily like you do with printed books.
  • Bookmarking, highlighting, and making notes on the book is virtually not possible.
  • The narrators can’t always meet our imagination standard.

But there are also advantages that can persuade you to at least try the new medium.

  • You can listen to a book while doing something else that requires low concentration level.
  • You can listen to a book in total darkness.
  • Some audiobooks are so beautifully read that they’re better than the printed editions.
  • No cramped, dusty bookshelves are necessary.

And best of all, you can play audiobooks using almost any device that can play digital media – from a car music player to a home sound system to a computer to a smartphone – except maybe for the ones with DRM protection. Ready to jump in?

Those with an iPhone or iPad should be familiar with iTunes media player. This Apple stock app used to be the default Audiobook player, but now Apple assigns iBooks for the task. It’s a logical decision if you classify audiobooks as books, but it can be confusing for those who consider audiobooks as listening and books as reading. But you can still use iTunes to play audiobooks as long as the files are in mp3 format and you set the filetype not as an audiobook. Whichever app that you choose, you have to save the audiobook files locally in your iPhone/iPad storage.

Another popular alternative audiobook player is Audible (free). This app relies on two sources of audiobooks: the ones you have in your phone storage and items that you bought from Audible stores. However, the app will download and keep audiobooks locally when you choose one to listen to.

Audiobook -mte- audible

What if you want to store your audiobook files somewhere in the cloud, like Dropbox, and play them on your iOS device? The cloud gives you the flexibility to store your files in one place and access them from multiple devices without having to clog your devices with tons of files. Some apps can help you in that department. Just one thing to remember before we continue: you need a good Internet connection to be able to stream the media files properly.

The first app on the list is Dropbox (free). Other than syncing your files across devices, this cloud storage app is also a capable audiobook player. If you store your audiobook files in your Dropbox folder, you can play them just by opening the files – one at a time – from the Dropbox app’s file browser window. My experiment told me that it can also remember the last position before you close the file, so you can continue from where you left off the next time you open the file. The only requirement is that the files are DRM-free audio files. You can also download the files locally to make them available for offline playing.

Audiobooks -mte- Dropbox

Another alternative that you can try is VLC for Mobile (free). This app is not an audiobook player but more of an all-around media player, so you can use it to play audiobook files. Another advantage of using VLC is that it can connect to several cloud services such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive. But from my experiment, it seems that the app can’t continue playing from the last position that you left off.

Audiobooks -mte- VLC

There is also Bound (US$ 2.99), an app that specializes in playing audiobooks from Dropbox. It has all the bells and whistles of an audiobook player, but unfortunately it’s limited to Dropbox only.

Have you tried any of these apps? Have you tried other alternatives not mentioned above? And if you are an audiobook aficionado, what application do you use to play your audiobooks? Please share your experience using the comments below.

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