2010 Unexpectedly Best iPhone App: Audible (audio book player)

iPhone apps can fall in a number of usefulness categories:

– Apps you expected to use frequently and actually do: I consider Evernote’s app to be in this category
– Apps you expected to use frequently and ends of gathering dust: Apple’s iMovie for iPhone is in this category for me
– Apps you want to use frequently but doesn’t work as expected or at all: WordPress for iOS is a prime example for me
– Apps you didn’t expect to use at all and turns out to be one of your favorite apps

Audible’s iPhone app fell into that last category for me. It was one of those apps that I didn’t expect to use beyond a quick test period. Audible, for those of you not familiar with it, is an audio book service owned by Amazon. These generally high audio quality books can be downloaded, after purchase, and played on many different kinds of computers and mobile devices. As an Audible subscriber, I was already quite satisified with the process of purchasing an audio book, downloading it to my Mac (or Windows PC), importing it into iTunes, and then syncing it with an iPod or iPhone. Apple’s iPod player software did a good job of letting me listen to an audio book, stop, and then pick up where I left off after a bit of finger twiddling on the device-of-the-moment’s controls.

A funny thing happened while evaluating Audible’s iPhone app though: I found I preferred using it to listen to audio books over the iPhone/iPod player. Separating the audio book player from my music and podcast player meant that resuming audio book listening didn’t require anything more than starting the app up again. The process of downloading an audio book to the iPhone also became much easier because books could now be downloaded directly from my online Audible library to the iPhone. Managing multiple audio books on the device also became much simpler. In short, Audibile for iPhone made everything about audio book listening much simpler and easier.

It is for all of these reasons and my regular use of the app that I’m naming it my 2010 Unexpectedly Best iPhone App.