10 best audiobook apps for your iPad and iPhone

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Best audiobook player apps for iPad and iPhone

iBooks, Audible, Google Play Books, Scribd, Libby? Which app suits your needs most? / Image: Juja Han

All you have to do to start listening to audiobooks on your iPad or iPhone is pick up the right app.

Days, when audiobooks were sold on CDs, are gone forever. Now, all you need is a phone or tablet.

Many platforms offer audiobooks, not only Apple. And all of them offer apps for iOS. Therefore, your primary task will be to decide which platform you like most – and download the corresponding app.

What’s very important, a growing number of apps can handle both ebooks and audiobooks. Thanks to that, there is no need to switch the app if you decide to change the way of consuming books.

What features a perfect iOS audiobook app should have?

  • handle other formats from the same platform, such as ebooks, comic books, or magazines,
  • support CarPlay,
  • sleep timer,
  • reading speed control,
  • bookmarks and notes,
  • sync of last-reached position,
  • option to choose between downloading for offline use and streaming,
  • built-in audiobook store,
  • stable audiobook playback.

What you need to keep in mind is that audiobooks take much more space than ebooks – and iPads or iPhones don’t have memory card slots.

Each hour of audiobook recording requires approximately 15 MB when you play in standard quality. Therefore, on average, an audiobook lasts 8-10 hours. Be prepared that ten downloaded audiobooks can get 1 GB of your iPhone’s internal memory.

What is the best audiobook player for iPad and iPhone? I’m sure that on the list below you will spot the app that meets most of your needs.

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10 best iOS audiobook apps

1. Apple Books

Apple Books app was redesigned in September 2018

Apple offers its own book-reading application, and for many dedicated iPad and iPhone fans, it will be sufficient enough for all their audiobook-related needs.

A thoroughly redesigned update, launched in September 2018 under the name Apple Books, offers a better library management and easier access to audiobooks you have purchased.

If you have recently listened to an audiobook, it will appear right away in the Reading Now section. Here, you will also find all the books you’ve added to your wish list, plus a few audiobook and ebook recommendations from the book store.

A significant advantage of Apple Books over other book and audiobook apps is that you can shop directly in the app. It makes discovering and buying new audiobooks a much easier task.

What you need to know is that Apple audiobooks are available in select countries.

Benefits: in-app audiobook purchases, simple and well-designed player, CarPlay support
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Apple Books

2. Audible

Best audiobook players for iOS - Audible for iPad and iPhone

If you have tried modern-day audiobooks (the ones available for streaming or downloading, opposite to CDs), and realized you might easily become a heavy user, you should try the Audible app for iPad and iPhone.

Audible platform is powered by Amazon. It’s the largest and most advanced audiobook service in the world. It offers the widest selection of audiobook titles, including the ones published exclusively for the platform.

But audiobooks are not the only thing to digest on Audible. You can find here original audio shows or short-form narratives. For instance, you can hear A-class celebrities narrating their favorite stories.

Audible lets you choose the preferred way of getting the content. You can either buy audiobooks the traditional way (one by one) or get them via subscription ($14.95 per month).

On top of that, if you are a member of Amazon Prime program, you get free access to Audible Channels – a carefully curated selection of original programs, lectures, and audio editions from top sources.

Once you decide to give Audible a try, you can instantly access on your iOS Audible app everything you downloaded for free or bought.

The app is free and ad-free, and syncs audiobooks in your account between all connected devices. You can listen to audiobooks even if you are offline.

The player offers premium-quality audio without interruptions, enables you to adjust the narration speed, and lets you quickly move forward or backward.

Benefits: connect to the world’s largest selection of audiobooks, no compromise – the app is optimized for audiobooks
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Audible

3. Libby

Best iOS audiobook apps - Libby for iPad and iPhone is a single iOS app that supports ebooks and audiobooks from multiple libraries

Why should you buy ebooks or audiobooks if you could borrow them from the library? And why should you use different apps for different libraries, if you could use Libby?

Developed by OverDrive, Libby is a next-generation application to manage the content you borrow not from one, but multiple libraries. It’s possible because you can register more than one library card.

After signing up, it takes just a few taps to find and borrow an ebook or audiobook. You can download audiobooks for offline use, but you can also stream them if you prefer to save space on your iPhone or iPad.

The greatest thing about Libby is that all the content from different libraries appears in a unified shelf, no matter which format they are. So, if your connected libraries offer audiobooks, you can borrow them just like ebooks. And you can play them within the app.

Unlike apps that offer access to free classic books, Libby is a great way to listen to free audiobooks of newly released books and hot bestsellers.

The catalog of ebooks and audiobooks offered by your public library may not be as extensive as Audible (and you may wait in a queue to borrow most popular titles), but it’s a simple, enjoyable – and most importantly – legal way to listen to audiobooks for free.

Benefits: read ebooks and play audiobooks from public libraries, sign in to multiple libraries
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Libby

4. Google Play Books

Audiobook player apps for iPad and iPhone - Google Play Books

Google Play Books app is a great option to try for everyone who is a dedicated user of Google services or has just switched from an Android-powered tablet or smartphone.

After launching audiobooks in the Google Play Store in January 2018, Google’s iOS reading application is now an all-in-one tool for digesting different kinds of digital content: ebooks, audiobooks, textbooks, or comic books.

The book and audiobook catalog of Google Play Store is not as massive as Amazon & Audible, but it’s larger than iBooks. A significant benefit is that you can buy audiobooks one by one – there is no need to buy the subscription.

If before you were using Google Play Books on Android, download the iOS app to your iPad and iPhone, sign in with your Google or Gmail credentials, and all your previous content should begin to sync.

Audiobooks are synced as well. You can start listening to an audiobook in a browser on your laptop, and continue from the last location in your Play Books app on your iPad. I’ve tested it on a free audiobook from Google Play Store, and it works beautifully.

Good news for those who love listening to audiobooks in their car is that Google Play Books app lets you control audiobooks directly via CarPlay.

Benefits: all kinds of digital books in one place, easy to use, sync between connected devices, audiobooks are subscription-free, CarPlay support
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Google Play Books

iPad cheat sheet 2020

Latest Apple iPad models

Together with links to tech specs and best case covers.

• • •

Apple iPad mini 5 - full info

Apple iPad mini 5, 7.9-inch

The world’s favorite compact tablet now comes with Apple Pencil 1 support and A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, three times the performance and nine times faster graphics. Prices start from $399.

Storage: 64, 256 GB Colors: Silver, Space Gray, Gold

Tech specs Best cases

• • •

Apple iPad 10.2 - full info

Apple iPad, 10.2-inch

2160 × 1620 px Retina display, Apple Pencil and full-size Smart Keyboard support, Touch ID, A10 Fusion chip with M10 coprocessor. Prices from $329.

Storage: 32, 128 GB Colors: Silver, Space Gray, Gold

Tech specs Best covers

• • •

Apple iPad Air 3 - full info

Apple iPad Air 3, 10.5-inch

An ultra-thin design with A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine and 10.5-inch advanced Retina display. Supports Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard (1st generation). Prices start from $499.

Storage: 64, 256 GB Colors: Silver, Space Gray, Gold

Tech specs Best cases

• • •

Apple iPad Pro 11 - full info

Apple iPad Pro 11-inch

11-inch edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display with ProMotion technology, Apple Pencil 2 support, Face ID, A12X Bionic chip and Neural Engine, high-speed high-speed USB-C connector. Prices start from $799.

Storage: 64, 256, 512 GB, 1 TB Colors: Silver, Space Gray

Tech specs Best cases

• • •

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 - full info

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch

12.9-inch Liquid Retina 2732 × 2048 px LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with ProMotion technology, Apple Pencil 2 support, Face ID, A12X Bionic chip and Neural Engine, high-speed USB-C connector. Prices start from $999.

Storage: 64, 256, 512 GB, 1 TB Colors: Silver, Space Gray

Tech specs Best cases

5. Kobo

iOS audiobook apps - Kobo ebooks and audiobooks for iPhone and iPad

If your major source of digital content is Kobo, you should look no further.

Kobo added audiobooks to their ebookstore in September 2017. It means that now in this single online destination for both ebooks (including comic books and textbooks) and audiobooks. And Kobo for iPad and iPhone is a single app for everything you’ve purchased in the Kobo online store.

The app works the same way as other ebook-audiobook combos. It’s either a book reader or an audiobook player, with the shared library. One thing to keep in mind is that audiobook playback is not perfect. New app updates are aimed at fixing audiobook-related issues.

Kobo app’s audiobook player is nicely designed and extremely easy to use. A nice slider makes it easy to navigate through the book with just one tap. The player displays information how much time is left to finish, and you can slow down or speed up the narration at any moment.

There is no information about CarPlay compatibility, so we have to assume there is none.

Benefits: all in one place – both ebooks and audiobooks, beautiful audiobook player
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Kobo

6. Nook Audiobooks

Audiobook players for iOS - Nook audiobooks

For people who are determined to use the Barnes & Noble ecosystem, there is a special app designed to play Nook audiobooks. However, it’s a different app from the regular book-reading Nook app.

In other words – unlike Google, iBooks, or Kobo – you need two Nook apps for your digital content from Barnes & Noble store.

On the other hand, having a dedicated audiobook app should guarantee a seamless error-free experience. However, from several user reviews, Nook Audiobooks app is not reliable and stable enough.

When it comes to features, the Nook app connects you with the Nook audiobook store offering over 100,000 books, some of them available at reduced prices. You can try most audiobooks by downloading their free samples.

Benefits: 100,000 Nook audiobooks, free samples
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Nook Audiobooks

7. LibriVox Audio Books

Audiobooks for iPhone and iPad - LibriVox app with 50 thousand free audiobooks

LibriVox is a volunteer-powered service that offers free audiobook versions of classic books that entered the public domain in the US.

LibriVox Audio Books for iPad and iPhone was developed by a different company (Book Design LLC). However, it offers free audiobooks from the LibriVox catalog as well.

The app is a great way to test if audiobooks are your thing. LibriVox is free to use, and it offers unlimited access to over 50,000 free audiobooks.

In the LibriVox catalog, you will find audiobooks recorded in over 30 languages. The app is a top destination for literary classics, but you can also see here biographies, history books, short stories, and poetry.

Having 50,000 titles at hand, you may get lost easily. That’s why LibriVox offers a robust search function. You can search by keyword; browse by title, author, or genre; check out recently added audiobooks.

The app provides a sleep timer (in case you love listening to audiobooks before bed) as well as unlimited bookmarks.

Benefits: a large collection of free audiobooks, in-app access to all titles, CarPlay support
Price: Free; to support developers, you can buy Pro version for $1.99
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ LibriVox

8. Audiobooks.com

Audiobook player for iOS - Audiobooks com - compatible with iPhone iPad and Apple Watch

Are you looking for an audiobook service that gives access to both free titles and paid bestsellers? Audiobooks.com app is the right thing to test on your iPhone or iPad.

Audiobooks.com platform offers over 100,000 premium-quality audiobooks. Over 8,000 can be downloaded for free. The company claims that hundreds of new audiobooks are being added to the catalog every week.

You can access all your tracks using iOS Audiobooks.com app tailored for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch (no CarPlay support, yet).

The application lets you adjust narration speed or set a sleep timer. The app’s unique feature is the possibility to life chat with customer service right within the app.

Audiobooks.com service is subscription-based. Your first book is free, and after the 30-day free trial period, you will pay $14.95 per month (the same as for Audible).

Benefits: wide compatibility, advanced player, instant access to customer service
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Audiobooks.com

9. Scribd

Best audiobook apps for iPad and iPhone - Scribd reading subscription

Scribd is a refreshingly different subscription-based digital content platform.

If you are looking for Audible alternatives, you should sign up for Scribd and test the platform during the 30-day free trial.

For one flat monthly fee starting from $8.99, Scribd offers unlimited access to different kinds of digital content: ebooks, audiobooks, newspapers, and magazines.

And the Scribd app for iPad and iPhone enables you to delve into anything you want, no matter the format. It could be the newest audiobook or a featured article from The New York Times. It means the app is more versatile than Google Play or Kobo, as these apps don’t give you access to newspapers and magazines.

The platform claims paid subscribers can listen to an unlimited number of audiobooks per month. However, sometimes you will have to face this: “Occasionally, we have to limit the titles that you’re able to access within a specific content library in a 30-day period.”

Benefits: ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines in a single app; unlimited number of downloads for subscribers
Price: Free; subscription costs $8.99/month
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Scribd

10. Amazon Kindle

Best audiobook apps for iPad iPhone - Kindle app offers a playback of audiobook companions

Amazon Kindle is one of the most popular book-reading apps for iOS, staying in the Top 3 of the “Books” category almost constantly.

The app doesn’t offer an audiobook player feature as such, but it provides another exciting solution that gives the user the chance to listen to books.

Unlike Google Play Books or Libby (which can be either a book reader or an audiobook player), Kindle offers something much more flexible. It’s addressed to people who are not dedicated to audiobooks.

In the Kindle Store, you can buy an ebook and add an audiobook companion later – for a fraction of the audiobook’s regular price. Thanks to that, you have one book in two formats.

Whispersync for Voice technology enables the user to switch between reading and listening with a few taps. The last-read location is synced between book versions and your devices. You can start reading on the iPad on your way to work, and switch to listening on your iPhone in the evening.

Kindle app with the option to add audiobook companions is a good solution not only for readers who want to have a freedom of choosing the format that suits the mood, but also if you share your Kindle library with family members.

Benefits: ability to add audiobook companions for Kindle ebooks, Whispersync for Voice technology
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Amazon Kindle

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