Amazon Kindle iOS, Android Apps Get New Audiobook Feature

Amazon's Kindle mobile apps now support a feature that automatically syncs ebooks with Audible audiobooks so users never have to leave the Kindle app to listen to a book. CIO.com blogger James A. Martin says "Whispersync for Voice" is valuable but is also missing an important component.

Amazon’s "Whispersync for Voice" feature is now available in the company's Kindle Android and iOS apps. The apps, updated earlier this week, lack the "Immersion Reading" you get with a Kindle Fire HD tablet, but they’re still worth a download.

Not familiar with Whispersync for Voice? The feature, which Amazon rolled out in 2012, synchronizes Kindle ebooks with their Audible.com audiobook counterparts. When a Kindle ebook has Whispersync for Voice, you can read the ebook on the train and listen to its audio book while driving, picking up in the audio book right where you left off in the ebook, and vice versa.

Kindle Android app Whispersync

Whispersync for Voice worked in the past on Android and iOS. But to take advantage of the feature, you had to switch from the Kindle app to the Audible app. Thanks to the latest updates, you can now switch between ebook and audio book without having to exit the Kindle apps. Is this a huge time saver? Not really. But it does make for a more seamless experience.

Be aware that if you buy a Kindle ebook, you must pay extra for the Whispersync for Voice experience. The added cost can be as little as $1 for some classics to $13 or more. From what I’ve seen, it’s less expensive to add Whispersync for Voice narration than it is to buy an ebook and its audio book separately on Amazon. For example: Adding the Whispersync for Voice narration to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars costs $4. If you buy the audiobook separately, however, it is $6.73.

Note: While in an ebook with a Whispersync for Voice companion audiobook you’ve purchased, you must manually download the audiobook to listen to it.

If you haven’t tried Whispersync for Voice, I highly recommend it. In fact, I wasn’t much of an audio book fan until I tried it. The feature gives me the pleasure of seeing how an author constructed sentences and paragraphs, along with the ability to catch up on my "reading" while taking a long walk, without losing my place in the book.

You can find Whispersync for Voice companions to your Kindle ebooks by logging into your Amazon account and using its Matchmaker service. Currently, Amazon offers more than 45,000 Whispersync for Voice titles.

The only downside is that the Android and iOS apps don’t yet offer Whispersync for Voice’s "Immersion Reading." With this feature, you can read the ebook while listening to the narration for the best of both worlds. But as of this writing, Immersion Reading is only available on Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets.

(Disclosure: I consult for a firm that has Amazon as a client.)

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