Apple replaces human narrators with AI in its new audiobook project

Your next audiobook might be narrated by artificial intelligence (AI) as Apple unveils Apple Books digital narration, with advanced speech synthesis technology at the forefront of the development.

Apple is trying to keep up with voicing the characters of various books as soon as they see the light of day. The audiobook market is quite a lucrative one, as it’s predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4% until 2030, according to Grand View Research.

To account for time delays and production costs associated with physical narration, Apple is aiming to make “the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all” by utilizing innovative technology.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

Although the project’s launch was expected back in November, Apple delayed it due to the uncertainty surrounding the tech sector, amplified by mass layoffs and chaos surrounding Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

The new “digital voices” will be tailored to specific genres, starting with fiction and romance. Partners will be able to listen to voice samples and select the best-fitting ones.

Current partners include Draft2Digital and Ingram CoreSource. Involved published were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, according to the Guardian.

The change might illustrate a grand shift towards modernizing the process of production of audiobooks – but it’s yet unclear what that might mean for professional human narrators.

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