Audible provides audio books. Customers can download the audio books to their computers or mobile devices — including iPhone/iPod, a variety of MP3 players, and BlackBerry devices. Last week, the Audible team released an upgrade to their BlackBerry application (version 1.4.2).
It is no secret that I was less than thrilled with the first release of the Audible application. Performance was painfully slow (when it worked), and the process proved — for me — to be more cumbersome than simply plugging the BlackBerry up via USB and dragging the audio book over manually via Mass Storage Mode and playing the file from the BlackBerry’s native media player.
Did Audible do any better with this updated version?
I have to say, while not perfect, this upgrade makes a world of difference compared to the last version. The application starts up and transitions much more smoothly — and much faster! My main complaint was that the original version took two (or more) minutes to start up. Then the application would take another two minutes per each menu action. I deleted other apps on my BlackBerry to free up space. I used another BlackBerry altogether. I even changed my BlackBerry operating system just to make sure I went through as many different variables as I possibly could to use the application. Needless to say, the first version of the app was frustrating and was promptly removed after a week of use.
Audible’s development team has definitely listened to customer feedback. Version 1.4.2 incorporates a number of improvements, including:
* All menu screens have been optimized to load faster.
* Improved user interface performance (scrolling through lists, audio playback buttons, etc.)
* Landscape typing for the BlackBerry Storm is now supported.
* The Curve 8900 is officially supported (and, although I was not able to try first hand, I suspect the 8900 version will work on the BlackBerry Tour since both devices share the same 480 x 360 display).
*My Library is now stored directly on your device for faster loading of your purchased titles.
* Audio playback bug while Audible for BlackBerry is minimized has been fixed.
I was able to listen to a sample audiobook in my car using Bluetooth A2DP with no application problems. The options to stream or download the content have been improved. Streaming, just like if you are using Pandora or Slacker radio on your BlackBerry, works great and was more convenient than downloading the content wirelessly over-the-air (OTA) to your device’s microSD card. The only issue with streaming, which is true for any streaming service, is that the service may be interrupted depending on your cellular data coverage area (I found this especially true while driving around town).
If you stop the application, it will keep your place (bookmark) in the audiobook — which is great if you need to quickly take a call or do some multitasking between applications on your BlackBerry. I was also pleasantly surprised that if I turned off the BlackBerry or did a reset (Battery Pull or ALT+Shift+Del on a QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry) , Audible would still retain my last spot in the audio book 😀
After using the application for several days, I can definitely say that the Audible developers put in a great deal of work to improve this BlackBerry application. Unlike the last version, it’s not been deleted off my device after a few days of pure frustration. I’m going to keep it loaded (at least for a while) and load up on some audio books for an upcoming trip. I’ll be using the ‘Berry for all my media needs on the trip (music, audio books, and I’ve even loaded up a full-length video from a DVD onto the microSD).
Last time I ran far away — and advised others to do the same — from the Audible BlackBerry application. This time I can say it is worth your time to try. The audiobooks load and stream much faster, and the performance has been drastically improved. It’s not perfect (I still had a few instances where the application seemed to hang, and I ultimately had to exit and then restart the app — but that is something I’ve encountered with almost all BlackBerry applications, especially if the on-board device memory is low).
If you are a BlackBerry user and enjoy audio books, you may be very pleasantly surprised with this application.
MSRP: The application is free. Pricing for the content will vary by subscription plan (although you can purchase audio books individually without a monthly subscription).
Content Selection: Very good. Audible has over 60,000 titles available for download or streaming.
What I Like: Drastic improvements to the overall speed and performance of the application. The application will retain your spot in the audio book even if your device is turned off or requires a reset/battery pull. Streaming and download options in the menus have been improved.
What Needs Improvement: The application will still sometimes “hang” but that is not uncommon for BlackBerry apps (more. on-board device memory. RIM. Please.)
Get the Audible for BlackBerry application at http://audible.com/bb.