Apple has recently launched a new feature for its Books app, which allows users to listen to written titles as audiobooks narrated by artificial intelligence. This feature, which was delayed from November last year, enables users to choose books that feature AI narration and includes a wide range of new titles that are "narrated by digital voice based on a human narrator."
As reported by The Guardian, this new initiative marks Apple's attempt to disrupt the rapidly growing audiobook market. Not all independent publishers have agreed to participate in the project, and some have raised concerns about the use of AI to narrate audiobooks, stating that it takes away from the artistry of creating an audiobook.
However, Apple sees this feature as an opportunity to promote previously unheard titles and make the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all. The company's website states that "many authors, especially independent authors and those associated with small publishers, aren't able to create audiobooks due to the cost and complexity of production. Apple Books digital narration makes the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all, helping you meet the growing demand by making more books available for listeners to enjoy."
The new feature offers four voices to begin with, two focused on fiction and romance and two voices for nonfiction and self-development. Apple has stated that more genres and voices are in the pipeline. The books are only available in English and are exclusively distributed through Apple Books, with publishers and authors retaining rights to the audiobooks.
While there are some concerns about the use of AI to create audiobooks, it's clear that Apple sees this as an opportunity to expand its reach in the audiobook market and make the creation and distribution of audiobooks more accessible for authors and publishers. It remains to be seen how successful the feature will be, but it's certainly an interesting development to watch in the world of audiobooks and digital narration.