February 9, 2023

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, Apple just released the first AI-narrated books to give you a taste of the future. But while the move is riveting and profound, the narrator’s mechanical tone suggests the beloved vocals are still around for a while.

You can find AI-voiced audiobooks that use text-to-speech translation by searching for “AI narration” in the Apple Books app. This will display a list of romance or fiction books (free and paid) with a “Told by Apple Books” description.

Apple Books offers two types of AI voices — a soprano called Madison and a baritone called Jackson — who both have American accents and currently only speak English. You can experience their sounds by clicking the “Preview” button under the title of one of the Apple Books narratives.

(Image source: Apple)

Now, there’s no question that both of Apple’s AI voices have a robotic, artificial quality. You won’t quickly mistake them for the warm, expressive tone of popular narrators like Stephen Fry or Julia Whelan. But while the uncanny valley remains a difficult hurdle for AI narrators to cross, they are certainly on the fast track to our ears.

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