Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Launches Audiobooks Voiced by Digital Narrators

Leyland Cecco, the Guardian:

Apple has quietly launched a catalogue of books narrated by artificial intelligence in a move that may mark the beginning of the end for human narrators. The strategy marks an attempt to upend the lucrative and fast-growing audiobook market – but it also promises to intensify scrutiny over allegations of Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour.

[…]

On the company’s Books app, searching for “AI narration” reveals the catalogue of works included in the scheme, which are described as being “narrated by digital voice based on a human narrator”.

Apple says it is starting with fiction and romance titles and, of course, in English only.

In addition to the examples on Apple’s website, I listened to a random selection of previews in Apple Books. They are good and often convincing. But I do not think this is what listeners ought to receive when they spend real money on an audiobook. These voices are only a little better than Apple’s screen reading voices, available in each platform’s Accessibility preferences. “Better than nothing” is not the most compelling argument for me, but I suppose it is inevitable; Google has offered a similar service since last year.