The CSR arm of Google on March 6 launched a new free app called the Bolo app to help primary grade children improve their reading skills in Hindi and English. The app comes with Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology which makes it very child friendly.
Designed to work offline, Bolo will be available on Google Play Store in India for all smart phones running on Android (kit kat) and higher.
According to Nitin Kashyap, product manager, Google India, “We have been piloting Bolo in 200 villages and early results are very encouraging.” The app has been under development for the last two years and it was piloted in an open beta program, with the help of ASER Centre in Unnao of Uttar Pradesh for three months since October 2018.
At present the app has a collection of 90 stories (50 Hindi and 40 English) supplied by storyweaver and other partner NGOs that include Pratham, Room to Read and others. In coming days more content will be added.
The app features includes a reading buddy called Diya that not only explains the words and their meanings to the kids as they read the text out loud but it also corrects them as they do so. “Diya can not only read out the text to your child, but also explain the meaning of English text in Hindi,” Google wrote in a blog post. The app also features interesting word games and earn in-app rewards and badges that are designed to encourage children to learn to words in a fun and playful manner. “Without the fear of getting wrong or being afraid of having to ask an adult, children will find the app enjoyable as it comes with a game and reward points format,” said Zohair Hyder, Engineering lead for Bolo adding that being ad free and its ability to work offline will also minimize distractions.
Currently it is designed for native Hindi speakers, however, over the time, the company plans to add native support for other Indian languages.