What if AI could read your audiobooks?

If you’re an audiobook fan, Apple just gave you a taste of the future by releasing its first batch of AI-narrated books. But while the initiative is fascinating and has far-reaching implications, the robotic tone of the narrators shows that the beloved human voice is here for the long haul.

You can find audiobooks read by an AI, using a text-to-speech system, in the Apple Books app by searching for “AI narration.” This will give you a list of romance or fiction books (free or paid) with the description “narrated by Apple Books.”

Apple Books offers two types of AI voices – a soprano called Madison and a baritone called Jackson – both of which have an American accent and currently only speak English. You can get a taste of the sound of them by pressing the “preview” button under any of the titles narrated by Apple Books.

(Image credit: Apple)

Right now, Apple’s two AI voices have a distinctly robotic, artificial tone. You won’t soon confuse them with the warm and meaningful tone of famous storytellers like Stephen Fry or Julia Whelan. But while the voice pitch remains a difficult hurdle for AI storytellers, there’s no doubt they’re about to win our ears.

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