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November 18, 2013

Listen with Lumia – Part 2

Last time, we discussed the ideal ingredients of an audiobook app, and two apps that offer easy-to-use solutions for getting started.

In this second part, we turn to a pair of apps for audiobooks that both offer a Swiss Army knife of audiobook functionality. They’re intended for people who already have a bunch of audiobooks on their computer, purchased from other sources or downloaded from the likes of Librivox.

The less technical option


My current favourite app in this category is Audiobookster, a paid app (£1.49) with a free trial available. This is a very smart-looking app with all the bells and whistles:

  • SkyDrive integration;
  • Fine controls (new to the latest version);
  • Integrates with the music player;
  • Completely reliable – including lengthy downloads;
  • Looks great.


It’s a shame that there’s currently no Live Tile functionality but that’s the only real lack I was able to find.

Bring on the technology

The do-it-all-and-more option seems to be Digital Audio Book (£1.99, with a free trial available). This is a more technical choice in some ways, as you’ll see. The interface is more than usable, but utilitarian rather than beautiful. What will make you love it (or maybe turn you off!) is a feature set that never seems to end. To start with, it’s got all the features that come in Audiobookster, above.


Then it also directly supports SD cards for storage – Lumia 820 and 625 owners rejoice!

And it can grab RSS streams – so you can also use it as a podcast catcher, I suppose.

And it supports voice commands.

And Live Tiles and Bookmarks.

And then there’s a separately downloadable server app for PC, which allows you to mark up your downloaded audio books with metadata, create a quick-and-easy download file that will grab the whole work when you open it back in the mobile app. It will also let you run an RSS server for those files direct from your PC. If that sounds fascinating and intriguing, then this is your app. I have to confess that I’ve only touched the surface so far and will be delving deeper.

An honourable mention – do keep an eye on Bard – this app looks amazing – and I wanted to recommend it here – but I’m afraid I ran into problems resuming files when I tried listening to my books (I had to restart chapters). I hope this gets fixed soon because otherwise I’m really impressed. There are some quite brilliantly realised features there – Bing Search for covers and the Live Tile implementation are both great. One to watch for future updates.

And one more to check outOverDrive media console. Many public libraries lend audiobooks using the OverDrive system. It’s almost exactly the same as lending books from the library, but without the physical book. Your local library buys licenses for (say) five copies of a particular work. You can reserve one of those and ‘withdraw’ it – download it for free using your library account. At the end of the lending period, the system simply expires the license to play it on your phone.

And now it’s over to you. Which apps have I missed, and what’s been your audiobook experience with them?