First, no doubt being prompted and encouraged by my review of their last update, Audible has released another update to their iPhone app.
They added two more narration speeds (0.75x and 1.25x) and a shorter sleep timer option (8 minutes).
The 0.75x speed does slow the narration down, and the pitch correction stops your alto narrator from turning into a baritone (just like it stops said narrator from turning into a chipmunk when sped up). Unfortunately it sounds all echoey with the two books I tried.
Why would you want to slow a book down, anyway? Trying to stretch your Audible credits as much as possible?
The 1.25x narration speed works well, and sounds really natural. I expect it will become the default speed for a lot of people, especially with non-fiction books.
But who asked for an 8 minute sleep timer? Who falls asleep that fast? Someone call a somnambulance.
They also fixed a bug with the sleep timer not working when running multiple apps — something I never noticed. And they promise a volume control in a future update. I guess people miss it. I don’t, really. I just use the normal volume up/down controls.
Second, I wanted to update my review on Jaybird JF3 Freedom Bluetooth earbuds. I had forgotten to test the microphone sound quality for voice calls.
In my review of my first set of buds, I had said the microphone sucked. Well I’m happy to report that it no longer does.
I have made several calls now and the voice quality is good on both ends. It needs a quiet environment though — once I walked into an Arby’s while talking and my friend got a blast of background conversation, even though the place was relatively quiet. Apparently they still need improvement on filtering out ambient noise. It does work well outside though, even with a light wind.
Audible updated their iPhone app last week to version 2.0. I don’t see a corresponding Android update but on their website but I’m sure it’s coming. I’ve been using the new app daily (of course) ever since it came out and I love it.
Here are the release notes.
Not much there, right? (sardonic grin with Rock-style eyebrow lift)
Well the iPad support is a big deal for those who have them, and being able to download more MB over 3G is nice for people with no wifi and lots of money (or unlimited 3G).
But the “complete visual overhaul” line bears some expansion…
First, there is a new icon — it’s cleaner and more industrial looking:
The main screen is also cleaner and more industrial looking:
You can see they removed the chapter skip buttons, which is reason enough to upgrade for me. I kept hitting the damned things by accident when I wanted to pause.
They also removed the volume slider, which I miss a little, but we still have the volume buttons on the side (remember those?). Plus my Jaybird earbuds have a volume control too.
I use the 20 second rewind button a lot, and that is right there. It’s the audio equivalent of rereading that last sentence, because your attention wandered for a moment. Or because the phone rang in the middle of a virtual paragraph and you lost the virtual thread upon its actual resumption.
Next to the Play button is the “add bookmark” button, which I am starting to use more and more. A quick tap every so often helps you find your place if you lose it. (Yes this is a problem for me.)
The sleep button in the bottom left will “sleep” the app after selectable 15 minute increments, or at end of chapter. It’s now a simple dropdown instead of a silly spinner. Note this is really a pause, it doesn’t sleep the phone or anything. That’s up to your normal phone sleep settings.
The speed button on the bottom right is useful if you are in a hurry to read your book, but I enjoy my books, so I wouldn’t use that. Actually I lied: I used it once to find my place in a chapter after my mind wandered for an extended period.
So where was I? Oh yeah, the main screen. Now, if you want to move forward or back a chapter, you have to use the chapter list. This is much easier to get at though — just tap on the “Chapters and Bookmarks” button at the bottom. It brings up the Details, Chapter, and Bookmark viewer, which is now just the Chapter and Bookmark viewer. Other than losing the Details (see below) the interface is much the same as before, except updated for the new industrial skin.
The book details are now available anytime by hitting the little “i” at the top right of the screen. This is an easily overlooked change that, to me, really ties everything together. Just like the book jacket it replaces. You can see it is not only pretty but is a tribute to the book, which is after all the reason you got this app in the first place:
At the bottom is a swipe pad which brings up the button free screen. Here you can use swipes to fast forward, rewind, pause, or add a bookmark. The screen hasn’t changed, just is easier to get to. Seems like a gimmick to me; I don’t use it.
Speaking of gimmicks, the “Me” menu hasn’t changed much. It still has our somewhat interesting listening stats and those silly badges. Cue the obligatory “we don’t need no stinking badges” joke.
As before, you get to the Me menu by tapping the back button from the main screen to get to the main menu area:
You can see this is also much cleaner. The library is now one level instead of several confusing submenus, with non-downloaded books simply greyed out.
And note the oversized book cover icon in the middle — that’s actually a button that zips you back to the main screen.
And note the star at the top left: this allows you to access help and modify some app settings, such as the 20 second rewind time. You can make it a 10 second rewind time. Or 30. And yes, the button on the main screen updates with the new number. Slick, huh?
Have you tried the new app yet? What do you think?