Google has launched the Read Along that is focused on elementary school students practice their reading skills and stay engaged with studies as schools are closed amid COVID-19 outbreak.
The new Read Along app is the rebranded and updated version of Google’s existing Bolo app that was launched in India last year with a catalog of read-along stories in both English and Hindi. The new app is now available in 180 countries except in the Philippines, Colombia, and Denmark, and offers stories in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.
Read Along uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech to help kids learn to read just like the Bolo app.
The app includes a reading assistant named Diya that detects and helps the kids if they struggle to read a passage with positive reinforcement. The child can itself ask Diya to help them read a sentence or pronounce a word they don’t know.
The app also includes mini word games and earn-in app prizes to improve the skills as the children progress in the app.
The company says just like Bolo the app was built with children’s privacy in mind and the app is able to work without either Wi-Fi or internet data. The voice data of the app is analyzed in real-time on the device and it does not get synced, stored, or analyzed on Google’s servers.
The company also notes that it will not use a voice sample from the kids to make the product better.
The app does not include any advertising or in-app purchases, but it also includes an option to connect to the internet to download additional stories for free.
At launch, Read Along offers around 500 stories and the catalog is continually expanded with new books.
The app is a free download on Google Play for children ages 5 and up.