Just over a week ago, Audible released its first Apple Watch app. Considering the Apple Watch has now been out about 3.5 years now, Audible has not rushed an app to market. In many ways, I do not think the Apple Watch has been ready for an Audible app until the last generation or two of Apple Watches and software.
The app was quietly released and I did not see it until it had been out for two days. I am a heavy Audible user. (I buy 30+ audiobooks a year and have a library over around 700 audiobooks. I have been a continuous member of Audible since 2004 or 2005.) I honestly was not sure that Audible needed an Apple Watch app because I have been pretty happy with my iPhone app.
Last year, Amazon released the Kindle Oasis with a Bluetooth wireless connection and an Audible app. But while I tried it, I primarily still listen to the iPhone because that is the device that I always have with me.
But the Apple Watch is different. When I am awake, I have the Apple Watch with me, even more than my iPhone. About six months ago I bought a used pair of AirPods, which has been the best purchase I have made for a long time. The AirPods are now always in my pocket. They instantly connect to my iPhone or Apple Watch. I almost always only keep one ear in at a time because I am a stay at home Dad and do not want to isolate myself. Alternating ears, I have never completely drained the battery of the AirPods.
As much as I love the AirPods, there was little reason to connect my Apple Watch to my AirPods because the Apple Watch, until the last OS update, did not have a podcast app or an Audible App. I did listen to music occasionally. And I did find a podcast app that I used every once in a while, but it was inconvenient to use.
The Best Part of the Audible Apple Watch App
The Audible Apple Watch app means I do not need to use my iPhone battery. Even though I am around the house much of the day, I still end up with an iPhone that is often nearly dead. My kids also like to listen to music and an iPhone is smart, but can still only play one stream of audio at a time.
The Apple Watch app is basic. Primarily the main screen controls includes play, pause, with a 30 second forward and reverse and a volume control. You can change books and move between chapters, change the speed of the narration, and delete a book from the watch using a force touch menu.
I also just do not need my phone as I walk around the house doing chores. I can leave my phone plugged in, or I can leave my phone at home and just take my watch if I am going on a walk.
Missing Features and Problems
I have listened to three books on the Apple Watch. One complete book, and then the last hour of a second book, and another hour of a third book. There is no way from the Apple Watch itself to download a new book. Because the Apple Watch 3 and 4 theoretically have a separate cell connection and all Apple Watches have both Bluetooth and Wifi connections, it should be possible to download an audiobook directly. (I am using a Apple Watch Series 2).
The first time I attempted to sync an audiobook to the watch it failed multiple times and predicted hours to transfer a book. Eventually I left it overnight and by the next morning two books had transferred. Later, after the first software update, I tried to transfer two books again and there were not any errors and it only took a few minutes. But it still would be nice to be able to download a book directly to the watch without the iPhone acting as an intermediary.
The second problem is that several times my place was lost on the Apple Watch. I have not figured out why the place was lost. But when that happens unless I happened to know where it was, I needed to find my place on the iPhone and then manually move the watch to that place. It would be helpful if there was a ‘sync to furthest place in the book listened to’ or ’manually sync with iPhone location’ option.
Audible also does not have an option for a complication. So you cannot make Audible a one click short cut. And for some reason, pause and play does not seem to work correctly from the AirPods. The pause works fine, but it will not restart using only the double tab on the AirPods as music or podcasts normally do.
At this point, Audible is still in early stages and while it does not feel particularly rushed to market, it does not feel like a fully developed product. The lack of options for a complication, the problem with pause/play from AirPods, the lack of ability to manually sync location or download a book are all reasonable expectations for the app. But the basic features work fine. I anticipate that my Apple Watch will become my main listening device. The main reason to continue to use the iPhone is for those books that I have both Kindle and Audible editions and I am listing to the audiobook through the kindle app on the iPhone so that I can make highlights or notes.
There is definitely room for improvement, but overall this is an app worth using if you are a fan of Audible, have an Apple Watch and have AirPods.