Google just launched an app to teach Indian kids to read
Google is rolling out another app just for India, this time to help children learn to read.
Bolo, an online reading tutor, was made available to Indian users of Google’s Android operating system this week after months of testing, the company said.
The app mimics teacher-student interactions, using artificial intelligence to guide children and give them feedback as they read aloud.
“We believe technology has the power to help transform teaching and learning, and have been actively directing our products, programs and philanthropy to ensure that all students are able to benefit from it,” Google said in a statement.
The app is currently geared towards native speakers of Hindi, the most widely spoken of India’s many languages. Its current library includes 40 Hindi stories and 50 English stories that children can choose from. Google said Bolo will add other languages “over time.”
The company is working with several non-profit organizations in India to improve the app. A pilot program run across 200 villages in India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, resulted in an improvement in reading proficiency in 64% of children, Google said.
The Silicon Valley giant has been at the forefront of a gold rush for India’s internet users, who now number more than 580 million. Nearly 60% of the country’s population is still to get online, presenting a huge potential market for major tech companies.
Bolo is the latest of several India-first features that Google has rolled out to try and attract hundreds of millions of users. Other recent efforts include a local social network called Neighbourly and a service to get bank loans through Google Pay.
The new reading app will also be available offline, a step several tech companies have taken to deal with India’s patchy mobile connectivity.