Kobo has been slinging e-books for years now, but it's still pretty new to the whole audiobook craze -- the Canadian company (and Rakuten subsidiary) only added spoken-word content to its catalog about a year ago. Thankfully, Kobo recently made it a little easier to keep listening to Caroline Kepnes' You after you've gotten cozy behind the wheel. Devotees can now listen to their Kobo audiobooks through Apple CarPlay-compatible infotainment systems — just connect the phone to your car, fire up the app, and you're off to the races (so to speak).
The experience as we understand it is straightforward enough, though Kobo is quick to note you can't use your car's touchscreen to scrub through your audiobooks. (You know, for safety.) You'll also have to make sure the title you're planning to listen to already lives on your iDevice, otherwise it won't appear in your audiobook library. Then again, that's nothing new either.
While the timing of Kobo's announcement means the company arguably missed peak road trip season (a.k.a. "summer"), this feature addition falls squarely into better-late-than-never territory. At the risk of sounding a little too obvious, audiobooks (and related content, like podcasts) have experienced a surprising surge in popularity as people continue to crave on-demand entertainment. Making it easy for those people to tap into vast seas of spoken-word fiction, humor and journalism is a crucial move for content providers like Kobo — in fact, since Kobo is one of only a handful of companies that are willing to fight Amazon in digital and audio literature, making these kinds of plays is even more important.
Is CarPlay support going to make or break Kobo in its protracted competition with Amazon? Nah, but feature parity — plus a steady trickle of new e-readers — mean Kobo is definitely still in the fight.