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How to Stream Audiobooks and Podcasts From the Cloud on the iPad and iPhone

24114529683_abce14f963_hLike many people, I have an old iPad with limited storage and an excess of files to put on it. So when I started getting into audiobooks, I quickly ran out of space and had to find another solution.

Sure, OverDrive, Audible, and the other major audiobook apps can all manage the audiobooks they sell/lend you, and apps like Bookmobile can download DRM-free audiobooks.

Those are good apps, but I don’t have the local storage to spare for the audiobooks I download from sites like Librivox.

I need a solution for streaming audio files from my cloud storage accounts rather than downloading the files, and luckily for me that solution wasn’t too hard to find.

To start with, two possible solutions include Apple Music and Plex, but they won’t solve my problem. While those apps can stream my audio files, I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee.

Safari, on the other hand, streams audio for free.

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If you are accessing a podcast from a website, Safari can play it. And even better, Safari can continue to stream the podcast in the background even after you’ve exited the app and gone on to other activities.

(I know, I know, it’s common knowledge that web browsers can stream audio. I wanted to be comprehensive.)

Safari is good for streaming audio from websites, but if you want to stream audio from, say, Dropbox, you’ll need to find another solution.

And it’s a pretty simple solution: just use the appropriate cloud storage app.

The Cloud

24373734849_0f6b44cce5_hThis is not widely known, but the iOS apps for OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon Cloud Drive can all stream the audio files you store on their servers.

(iCloud Drive and Box can probably also stream audio, but I am having trouble with uploading the files.)

  • Of the four apps I have tried, I would recommend either Dropbox or Google Drive. Both apps can play an audio file in the background, and will remember where you were when you last stopped listening to an audio file.
  • One Drive and Amazon Cloud Drive can play an audio file, yes, but they will stop playing when you exit the app.

At the moment I am streaming a movie commentary MP3 from Dropbox, and so far it is working well for me.  I don’t have any advanced features like bookmarks or advance/jump, but the basic ability to play the file is enough for me at the moment.

So while Dropbox is not a complete solution, it works for me right now.

What about you? how do you stream audio on your iDevice?

images by Jon Grado


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