Apple Introduces Synthetic Speech Narration for Audiobooks
Apple has released an AI narration tool for books allowing authors to synthesize an audiobook. The Apple Books text-to-speech AI provides authors working through partnered publishing companies to quickly and cheaply produce an audiobook performed by one of Apple’s catalog of synthetic voices.
Apple describes the AI narration asa way for independent authors to produce audiobooks without the long and often expensive production of getting a professional voice performer in a studio and then editing the raw audio into a usable form. There are only a few books using the synthetic voices right now, with the reader identified as “Apple Books” to the listener regardless of which of the four voices are employed. Only authors working through Draft2Digital or Ingram CoreSource can apply for the tool. The current list of Apple Books-narrated titles are in the literary, historical, and women’s fiction genres, though non-fiction and self-development genres are also on the way. Romance and fiction offer a soprano and baritone voice named Madison and Jackson while the self-development and non-fiction voices are named Helena and Mitchell. The whole process from acceptance to publication takes about a month.
“Apple Books digital narration brings together advanced speech synthesis technology with important work by teams of linguists, quality control specialists, and audio engineers to produce high-quality audiobooks from an ebook file. Apple has long been on the forefront of innovative speech technology, and has now adapted it for long-form reading, working alongside publishers, authors, and narrators,” Apple explains on the website. “Our digital voices are created and optimized for specific genres. We’re starting with fiction and romance, and are accepting ebook submissions in these genres. Hear samples of voices available for these genres below, or check out the full books in our audiobooks store.”
AI-generated audiobooks aren’t new, but Apple getting into the scene could boost attention and interest in the possibilities of alternatives like Murf. It’s also becoming more common for news sources like Cerence’s reader for Reuters and Papercup’s translation of Bloomberg stories into Spanish. The audiobooks option also continues Apple’s synthetic media expansion, including patenting deepfake tech for photos.