Google’s speech-based app designed to help children learn to read is now available in early access in more than 180 countries. The app was originally launched in India in March of last year as “Bolo”, and its global release introduces a new name for the app: Read Along.
The search giant announced today the rollout of Read Along on Android devices, available to download for kids aged five years and above. It features an in-app reading tutor named Diya (also used for Bolo). Using Google’s text-to-speech and speech recognition technology, the tool works to provide verbal and visual feedback to kids as they read stories out loud. When it finds that a reader is having difficulty reading a text, Diya offers a “positive and reinforcing feedback”. Kids can also tap Diya if they need help pronouncing a word.
In addition to stories, Read Along also features in-app games where children can collect stars and badges along with their reading progress. This is meant to keep them interested in stories they read. For parents with several kids, there’s an option to set up profiles for multiple readers. Each profile allows parents to monitor their kids’ individual progress and customizes the reading experience with a difficulty level of stories and games according to the reader’s performance.
Google says the app works completely offline, though you may need to connect to the internet when you need to download more stories. It also analyzes the voice data on-device in order to protect children’s safety and privacy. Read Along can be downloaded via the Play Store, and it supports nine languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hindi.