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When I got my first iOS device, an iPad 2, the audiobook support was great. Recognized chapters in the Audio Books showing chapter names, really good. Then an update came, and no more chapters, audiobooks hidden away Music App. Every change seemed to hide it a bit more, but you could modify the tab bar and put audiobooks there where it was easily acceptable.

Then shipped 8.4 which completely and utterly fucked it all up.

Understand, I'm not much of a music listener. Oh, I've got a music library, mostly folk and classic rock, plus some humor bits. I'll sometimes use the iTunes Genius Mix if I'm in the mood. But I'm not in the mood very often, I far prefer audiobooks. I've got audiobooks playing pretty much non-stop. (My audiobook library is the reason I got a 64 GB iPhone and wish I'd gotten 128B.) So Apple Music holds no interest to me. Fine, fine, not every Apple customer is like me, I'm probably in a fairly small minority. Still no excuse in ruining Audiobook playback under 8.4

First, audiobooks were moved to iBooks. On my iPhone, I usually have iBooks hidden in a folder. But launching Music did bring up an alert saying it had been moved so I could get there in one click the first time. Half point for the alert.

Entering it, it listed all my eBooks (a few PDFs I'd downloaded to it for easy viewing), all my books I've bought on my iPad (and should you happen to click on the right side of a line for one, it downloads them it), plus the audiobooks. AAAARRGGH. This SUCKS! This is going to be so annoying! Minus 10 out of 10 points for this.

After some poking around, I did see that there's something called collections available in a popdown menu. I've never used collections in iBooks on my iPad or my iPhone, but it segregates my library into lists. One of them is Audiobooks. I choose that, and we're back to my list of audiobooks I've wanted. Yippee! I'll give them back 8 of those points. Some sort of tutorial or notice (Music knew I played audiobooks so told me to go to iBooks, iBooks could have seen all those audiobooks and warned me) would give back another point. But a tab bar is so much better than a popdown menu. So much more visible. No tab bar, losing at least one point.

So I have my audiobook, start one playing. Looks like it does recognize chapter breaks - but not chapter titles, apparently. Half point for that.

Then I click back to the list of audiobooks - and playback STOPS. Stops dead. And no indication of which audiobook I was in the middle of listening to. WTF?

This is completely unacceptable. Not even a little bit acceptable. There's no warning that the itsy bitsy back arrow (which should be larger, but on the list of problems in this disaster, insignificant) that it stops playback. This means that you can't look to see what other audiobooks you have in the series, can't listen while reading, and particularly I can't look at one of my PDFs without stopping playback.

This makes audiobook playing on iOS 8.4 a 0 out of 10. 0 stars, Steaming piece of crap.

How to solve this? An audiobook player as a separte app. If you want to put it in the app store and have iBooks handle it if the separate app is not installed, that's cool. 

Posted on June 30, 2015, 10:02 am

Donald Brown

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