AI-Narrated Audiobooks Now Available in Apple Books

Apple has now launched Apple Books digital narration, offering a new way for publishers to automatically generate high-quality AI-narrated audio from written text.

General Books Feature
The feature, first announced in December via the Apple Books for Authors webpage, allows publishers on the Apple Books platform to opt-in to have their written books converted into a narrated audio form using AI. Samples of the voices developed specifically for the feature are available on the same webpage.

More and more book lovers are listening to audiobooks, yet only a fraction of books are converted to audio — leaving millions of titles unheard. 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.

Apple Books digital narration brings together advanced speech synthesis technology with important work by teams of linguists, quality control specialists, and audio engineers to produce high-quality audiobooks from an ebook file. Apple has long been on the forefront of innovative speech technology, and has now adapted it for long-form reading, working alongside publishers, authors, and narrators.

[...]

Digitally narrated titles are a valuable complement to professionally narrated audiobooks, and will help bring audio to as many books and as many people as possible. Apple Books remains committed to celebrating and showcasing the magic of human narration and will continue to grow the human-narrated audiobook catalog.

Apple is offering different AI voices for different genres and the feature is only available for some genres at this time, but more will be added in the future. Apple says that it can take up to one month for an AI-narrated audiobook to be created and approved, suggesting that there is an element of manual review in the process. Publishers are also free to offer a traditional, human-narrated audiobook alongside the AI-narrated version.

As highlighted by The Guardian, the first AI-narrated audiobooks are now available in Apple Books, highlighted by the tag "Narrated by Apple Books."

Top Rated Comments

till Avatar
3 weeks ago

high-quality
It's better than simple TTS, but the robot leaks through a lot. It's extremely low-quality compared to any decent human narrator, but I suppose it's better than nothing. I can't imagine anyone paying actual money for this though.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VampyricGentleman Avatar
3 weeks ago
Whilst I have no interest in it, because I have a huge Kindle Library, I prefer my audio books narrated by a human, purely because I often wonder what the narrator when not the author really thinks of the book they are reading.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kalsta Avatar
3 weeks ago
Just listened to a few samples. They sound more-or-less real, but impassive.

Wake me when they offer some non-American accents.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
captainorange Avatar
3 weeks ago

('https://www.macrumors.com/2023/01/05/ai-narrated-audiobooks-now-available/')

Apple has now launched Apple Books digital narration, offering a new way for publishers to automatically generate high-quality AI-narrated audio from written text.



The feature, first announced in December ('https://authors.apple.com/support/4519-digital-narration-audiobooks') via the Apple Books for Authors webpage, allows publishers on the Apple Books platform to opt-in to have their written books converted into a narrated audio form using AI. Samples of the voices developed specifically for the feature are available on the same webpage ('https://authors.apple.com/support/4519-digital-narration-audiobooks').Apple is offering different AI voices for different genres and the feature is only available for some genres at this time, but more will be added in the future. Apple says that it can take up to one month for an AI-narrated audiobook to be created and approved, suggesting that there is an element of manual review in the process. Publishers are also free to offer a traditional, human-narrated audiobook alongside the AI-narrated version.

As highlighted by The Guardian ('https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/jan/04/apple-artificial-intelligence-ai-audiobooks'), the first AI-narrated audiobooks are now available in Apple Books, highlighted by the tag "Narrated by Apple Books."

Article Link: AI-Narrated Audiobooks Now Available in Apple Books ('https://www.macrumors.com/2023/01/05/ai-narrated-audiobooks-now-available/')
I'm a storyteller and children's entertainer. These voices are an upgrade to be sure and I am excited about how much better these sound than a couple of years ago, but they are still limited to a competent 'neutral' reading. A neutral read can be good for news and it is also the kind of thing I might prepare for myself when I am learning a new story and don't want to accidentally encode all my decisions about how to inflect while I learn the relevant text of the story. Even useful in an audio book context when I don't want another person interpreting the author's text for me.

Good reading for fiction--or any form of persuasive speaking--involves not just properly formed words, but context. It is an interpretation and a performance. There are choices about how to cue your listener about how to feel about what you say. The AI is not (yet) at the point where it can comprehend any but perhaps the most basic proximity in terms of relationships to the words--never mind a passive aggressive insult, a clever allusion to a famous work, or an ironic turn of phrase that a reader might recognize from a previous chapter or two books ago in the series.

Until there is some form of comprehension and an algorithmic response that communicates to a listener that the speaker actually understands what is being read and is making interpretive choices, that inflection will be absent or provided by a human who can adjust the AI voice based on context (probably more work than hiring a good performer).

As I said above, there are plenty of use cases for AI reading right now, but a good dramatic performance isn't currently one of them.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dysamoria Avatar
3 weeks ago

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but sometimes the voice actors just don't do it for me. Having multiple AI voices to pick as alternatives would be an interesting development. But I'm curious how well they compare dramatically.

Curious, though: "mysteries and thrillers, and science fiction and fantasy are not currently supported" Apparently the voices are trained by genre, so they must be based on existing audiobooks? I hope the narrators get compensation for that.
Vocabulary. There’s no way specialized vocabulary and fictional words (invented names for people and places, etc.) will work without a lot more handholding and custom “training”.

Hell, Siri constantly speaks badly just with common language (I’ve been finding it can’t seem to connect clauses with multiple people named, to other clauses with “and” correctly; one of my recent dictated iMessage replies wouldn’t even register as having happened at all, three times in a row, even though I watched it display on screen as I spoke it the second & third times, as Siri just erased it and asked again & again if I wanted to reply).

There is no artificial intelligence. There are cleverly-written algorithms that seem amazing under very limited contexts, but then fail to work in endless other contexts/circumstances because they’re not capable of thinking. The computer industry has brought us Artificial Stupidity, not AI.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
danbalsh Avatar
3 weeks ago
Wow, those AI samples are incredible!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone trade in

Apple Adjusts Trade-In Values for iPhones, Macs, and More

Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:40 am PST by
After announcing new Mac and HomePod models last week, Apple adjusted its trade-in values for select devices in the United States. iPhone trade-in values decreased by up to $80, and most Android smartphones also went down. Mac trade-in values remained unchanged or increased by up to $40 depending on the model, while some Apple Watch models increased in value and others decreased. Trade-in...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Expected Later This Year With These 7 Exclusive Features

Tuesday January 24, 2023 4:53 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least seven exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the seven features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
Mac mini M2 2023

New 256GB Mac Mini and 512GB MacBook Pro Have Slower SSD Speeds Than Previous Models

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:11 pm PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M2 chip has a lower $599 starting price, the base model with 256GB of storage has slower SSD read and write speeds compared to the previous-generation model with the M1 chip and 256GB of storage. A teardown of the new Mac mini shared by YouTube channel Brandon Geekabit reveals that the 256GB model is equipped with only a single 256GB storage chip, while the...
apple tv 4k red image

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3

Tuesday January 24, 2023 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released tvOS 16.3, the third major point update to the tvOS 16 operating system that originally came out in September. Available for the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, tvOS 16.3 comes six weeks after tvOS 16.2, an update that added Apple Music Sing. The tvOS 16.3 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the ‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌ by going to System > Software...
watchOS 9 Feature

Apple Releases watchOS 9.3 With New Watch Face, Bug Fixes

Monday January 23, 2023 10:06 am PST by
Apple today released watchOS 9.3, the third major update to the watchOS 9 operating system that first launched in September. watchOS 9.3 comes over a month after watchOS 9.2, an update that added new Workout functionality and Crash Detection optimizations. watchOS 9.3 can be downloaded for free through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone by opening it up and going to General > Software Update. ...
iOS 16

iOS 16.3 for iPhone Launching Next Week With These 4 New Features

Friday January 20, 2023 11:43 am PST by
In a recent press release, Apple confirmed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week. The software update will be available for the iPhone 8 and newer and includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped bigger features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for Apple ID accounts, worldwide ...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Pro Mac Mini

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
The new M2-series MacBook Pro and Mac mini models launched today, marking the debut of the first M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. We have the M2 Pro Mac mini on hand, and thought we'd take a look at the machine and do a series of benchmarks to see how it fits into Apple's lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Base model Mac mini machines come with either an M2 or M2 Pro...
Ventura Macs Feature Blue

Apple Releases macOS Ventura 13.2

Monday January 23, 2023 10:09 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Ventura 13.2, the second major update to the macOS Ventura operating system initially released in October. macOS Ventura 13.2 comes more than a month after macOS Ventura 13.1, an update that added the Freeform app and other changes. The ‌macOS Ventura‌ 13.2 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...