Given the prevalence of national lockdowns or social distancing campaigns around the world, it’s not surprising that nearly every major technology company has scrambled to release learning and entertainment aids to adults and children alike. Now, Google has officially expanded the release of its Read Along app to 180 new countries.
Read Along – previously called Bolo (as it may still be named in your instance of the Google Play Store) uses Google’s speech recognition technology to provide feedback to children as they work through games and prompts.
The app, which was first launched in India under the ‘Bolo’ name (which means ‘speak’ in Hindi) in 2019, presently accommodates nine languages, among them English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hindi.
Beyond English, no other official South African languages are accommodated at present, though Google has confirmed its teams are actively exploring adding other languages to the app.
Through a series of short stories – some of which arrive in the app at launch, while others can be downloaded over time – Read Along encourages children to read sentences and phrases, and is capable of reviewing speech input. An ‘assistant’ of sorts, named Diya, will help learners with pronunciation as their journey progresses.
The app further supports multiple users – children can individually track their progress and set various difficulty levels to improve their reading skills.
Interestingly, Read Along uses the same speech recognition technology as is found in the Google Assistant, though the company hasn’t yet announced integration with that service just yet.
Fortunately for parents, Read Along doesn’t require a Google Account sign-in and does not contain in-app ads or purchases.