Official Audible App for Android – Beta now available!

5 06 2010

Audible have been slow to support Android devices, not sure why but the wait is over. Google and Audible have teamed up and there is now an official beta app available that works with your Audible account/library. To get it visit the Audible for Android (Beta) group at Google Groups.  At the time of writing (June 5th 2010) there are 3231 members of this group, so there are not many folks out there aware of this beta application. Hopefully I can spread the word via this blog :-)

Installation

The download is not available on the Android market so you need to setup your phone to allow downloads from ‘unknown sources’. To do so enter the settings on your android phone, select applications and check ‘Unknown Sources’. Now visit the download page on a desktop PC scan the QR code using your android device. Once the download is complete click on the .apk file and follow the installation prompts.

How Good is It?

I have found the beta to be stable on the Motorola Droid (Version 0.136b). As soon as you authenticate the application to your Audible account it updates the items you have in your Audible library, presents them in a list that can be sorted several useful ways and allows one to select the items for download.

One ‘drawback’ of this application is that it can only download and play Audible’s enhanced audio format. This means the downloads are quite big, 28MB per hour of audio. Not all titles are available in the enhanced format, out of my library of 24 titles, 2 are not available in enhanced audio format, so I can’t play them using this android app. This level of audio fidelity is wasted on a mobile device one will use while exercising, driving the car etc. As a result it is best to download the files while attached to a WiFi network for speed and to ensure you don’t hit any download caps your provider may have set. This means you really need to download files prior to heading out the door. In the discussion forum the developers have mentioned they will support lower fidelity file types in the future. The only way to download enhanced audio format using the app is to first ensure that your audible media is setup as enhanced using your account on the web, you can’t change format via the phone.

If you already have the enhanced audio files downloaded to your PC/Mac it is possible to simply copy the .aax files to the Audible folder on your android phone and the application will automatically detect them when it is launched. The application gives one a simple way to remove old audio files from your phone to free up space, long hold the title and chose remove.

The application fully supports chapters and bookmarks as with other audible players on other devices and on your desktop. One feature that appears to b missing is the ability for it to synchronize the place in any audio file to allow one to pick-up where you left off if you resume on another device. This feature is present with some supported audible devices, so this is a disappointment.

At this time it is not possible to search for or add books to your library via the app, you have to visit the website to do that, after which one can refresh your library on the phone and download the ebook. I am certain they will add this feature soon, it will encourage book purchases so should be high on the feature list for the app.

One feature of all audible players I dislike is the inability to manually advance to any point in the current file and therefore skip over uninteresting parts of the audio track. This application is no exception. Book chapters can be an hour or more each so I don’t find the ability to jump to/from chapters meets all of my needs. Android media player is much better in this respect. If you really need this ability then convert your audible files to mp3’s and play using the Android media player using the procedure I detailed in this other post. However the convenience to download directly to your android device instead of going through a multi-step process on your computer somewhat makes up for this drawback.

Summary

This is a must download for anyone who has an Audible account and an Android device.





My Top Ten Droid Applications

1 01 2010

This is a list of the applications I have found most useful on the Motorola Droid. I will update this post as I discover apps that are worthy, and demote an item to make room. Some of the apps come on Droid out-of-the-box, others are available on the Android Marketplace. Here’s a quick flavor of what  will describe in more detail.

  • Turn by Turn Navigation.
  • Multi-touch ‘pinch’ zoom just like the iPhone. Plus tabbed browsing!
  • Print web pages and photos from your cell phone directly to your printer(s) from anywhere.
  • Make cheap international calls on your cell, bypassing Verizon’s higher rates.
  • Play Audible eBooks and magazines/newspapers.
  • Have the phone go into silent mode as you arrive at church and go back to normal after you leave.
  • Lose weight.
  • Turn you phone into a radio by playing internet radio on your home or car audio system, or on ear buds as you work out. No DJ’s, No audible adverts. Just music.
  • Have your MP3 collection with you wherever you go, even if it exceeds the memory capacity of the Droid. Take 100GB of search-able MP3’s (or more) on the road!!
  • Sync you iTunes library with the Droid!

1. Pandora (Free with ads or $34 without ads). Comes with the Droid.

Pandora is a really well written internet radio application. One can select a music stream from a list of genres or type in an artists name and create your own feed of your favorite music. One can’t choose which songs are played, but each Pandora user can give an online thumbs up or thumbs down to a track that is being played which will help Pandora provide music that is well thought of in each genre or for each artist.

The ads are very small at the bottom of the screen, better still there are NO audio ads to interrupt the music, so it is much better than traditional broadcast radio. No DJ to tolerate either. If your phone rings, the audio stream is automatically paused and will resume after the call ends. Attach the audio out jack on the Droid to a stereo or car audio system and the music is CD quality.

I found that it works just as well on Verizon’s 3G network or on WiFi. If the phone switches between WiFi and 3G, say as you drive off from home, it switches seamlessly without skipping!! A click is sometimes heard, but that’s it.

The free version is limited to 40 hours of listening per month. There are also limits on how many tracks one can ‘skip’. These limits are either raised or eliminated if you subscribe to Pandora One. Read the rest of this entry »