Google is launching another India-exclusive app, and this time, it’s geared toward education. Bolo, a reading tutor app for kids in India, is now available to Android users.
The Hindi word for “speak,” Bolo is an artificial intelligence-powered app that teaches elementary students to read in both Hindi and English.
School-aged children can read stories in Bolo written in Hindi and English through the help of an in-app assistant, a young girl named Diya, who uses speech recognition and the text-to-speech technology that’s also available in Google Assistant.
Diya can also give kids feedback and corrections while reading and can also translate Hindi words to English. It’s also worth mentioning that Bolo can work even when offline, which is a helpful feature, as most of India’s internet connection in rural areas is not as stable. Bolo can handle multiple users as well and will adjust itself according to each child’s reading levels.
As of the moment, Bolo’s library contains 40 stories in English and 50 stories in Hindi. Although for now it currently supports the Hindi language — the most widely spoken language in India — Google says it plans to add more Indian languages in the future.
Before launching Bolo as an open beta, the app was first tested in 200 Indian villages in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, with the help of ASER Centre.
The pilot test involved around 1,500 children, 920 of which used Bolo unsupervised while 600 were placed in a control group who didn’t use the app.
After three months, the pilot testing proved to be quite successful, with 64 percent of children who used Bolo showing significant improvements in reading proficiency.
The Bolo language-learning app is a useful tool in a country such as India, where limited access to education and illiteracy are still an issue.