Thanks to some of the changes made in iOS 4.0, some of the largest challenges for an Audible iPhone app we've written about in the past are no longer a problem. I'm really excited that a free Audible app has finally arrived on the App Store!
Ironically, while you can create an Audible account from the app, you aren't able to browse Audible's selection or purchase books; plan on making a round trip to Safari whenever you want to buy something. Additionally, there are some older titles that have not yet been made available in a format ready for wireless delivery, but Audible claims over 75,000 titles are available.
One annoyance with the application is that you will need to be connected to Wi-Fi to download any files larger then 20MB. While this limit isn't particularly surprising given similar restrictions in other apps and the App Store itself, it is a limit not shared with at least one other Audible app on a competing platform.
Audiobook playback is where the new app really shines -- it provides a better experience than listening to audiobooks through the iPod app. iOS 4 multitasking is built in, as are OS playback controls; you can use the playing and pausing from a clicker on a compatible set of headphones. You won't be missing any of the native features that may have prevented earlier audiobook apps from getting as much traction.
The killer feature for me is the addition of a bookmark system. When you want to save a spot you'd like to return to later, hit the bookmark button and you're prompted to save your spot with the option of typing out a note for it as well. This is a much better solution than my current technique of snapping a screenshot of the location in the iPod app.
I also really like the ability to set a sleep timer so that the book pauses (after a few different intervals, up to an hour). Between the sleep timer and the additional rewind and fast-forward functions it's going to be easier to find your place the next time you start listening.
The Audible app also works with the other audiobooks you've already synced from iTunes; however, according to the manual, some of the metadata, like chapter marks, won't make it across.
If you're feeling social and you want to recommend what you're reading you can compose an email with the info or send it directly to Twitter or Facebook.
Rounding out the features list are personal reading statistics, an achievement system and a news section for keeping up with Audible and general book news.
Don't be surprised if you have trouble downloading anything from Audible right now, they are having some issues with their download servers; they should be back up and running as usual soon.