Introducing Audiobooks 6.0

Five years ago I had a week’s spare time between consulting projects. I took the opportunity to see if I could try and build an app in a week, the result was Audiobooks.

In a store that is more known for giving apps 15-minutes-of-fame, Audiobooks has so far stood the test of time. Five years later the app continues to be one of the most popular audiobook apps in the store and has garnered nearly 8.5 million downloads. To celebrate its fifth birthday Audiobooks today is getting a major update to version 6.0.

Long-time Audiobooks users will notice the top to bottom overhaul of the appearance of the interface. If I’m honest the iOS 7 design update that I shipped last fall was a bit lukewarm. My own experience and concept of what a modern iOS app would look and feel like wasn’t fully developed. Now with the benefit of nearly a year using iOS 7 the visual design of Audiobooks finally can feel truly at home. Along with the improved graphics I was also able to add cover art for most of the nearly 8,000 audiobooks in its catalog, including the 6,672 free titles.


The part of the update that I am most excited about is the addition of podcasts to the catalog. I love podcasts, simple as that. I likely listen to 20-30 hours of podcasts a week. They are one of my favorite forms of entertainment. As such I’m always looking for ways to introduce them to new listeners. If you’ve met me in-person you have likely experienced this first hand. For the 6.0 update of Audiobooks I decided to try and leverage the wide customer base it has to hopefully advance podcast listenership into a new audience.

The fusion of audiobooks and podcasts is a natural one. Both seek to provide you with an enjoyable audio experience you can take with you everywhere. The content and format might vary between them but if you enjoy listening to an audiobook there is a good chance you’d also like listening to a podcast.

This update, however, isn’t just about shoehorning a traditional podcast client into the app. I started from scratch on how I could simplify and boil down the essential podcast experience before I added it in. Most podcast clients (my own included) start you off with a screen listing thousands of shows to choose from or worse an empty search box that you need to use to find your own way. Most of these start from the assumption that you already know how podcasts work and have a few in mind before you even start. I wanted to address a different need.

What if you don’t know anything about podcasts to begin with?

The new podcasts area of Audiobooks assumes you know nothing about what a podcast is. It begins with a brief overview of what a podcast is in layman’s terms. Then below shows you a few dozen recommended, topical episodes to try out. I am continuing to refine this curation but my goal is to provide a short, rolling list of podcast episodes that appeal to a broad audience. The list is intentionally sparse. My goal is to not overwhelm you with a paradox of choice. I want to eliminate the possibility of being disappointed with your selection.

I’m not trying to replace or compete head-on with the traditional lineup of podcast clients. There is no concept of subscriptions, notifications, playlists, etc. You pick an episode, give it a listen and then grab another. My hope is that this will whet my customers appetites for a fuller experience and then motivate them to seek out a more robust experience once they too fall in love with podcasts.

Audiobooks is free.
David Smith