In a move to help children learn and read in Hindi and English, Google has launched a new speech-based reading-tutor app called ‘Bolo’ in India.

The freemium Bolo app that uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology has been designed for primary grade students. The app features an animated character ‘Diya’ that aids, corrects and encourages children to read stories aloud and even help with their pronunciation.

While the literacy rate varies between states in India due to limited access to ‘quality material’, insufficient resources, and other challenges that children face, Google believes that the new Bolo app will help them at least improve their reading skills.

Google India in its blog post mentioned that the new Bolo app will assist children as a personalised reading tutor and provide feedback to them.

The app includes an initial catalogue from Storyweaver with over 50 stories in Hindi and 40 in the English language.

Additionally, the app includes word games and earn-in app rewards and badges to make it more fun and interactive. The company notes that the ‘Diya’ feature can explain the meaning of English text in Hindi and it works even when there is no internet connectivity.

Citing the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) 2018 report, Google said that of all students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India, only about half of them can confidently read a grade 2 level textbook.

With the help of ASER Centre, the tech giant piloted the new Bolo app across 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh over the past few months. In the survey, Google found 64 per cent of children showing an improvement in reading proficiency within three months.

Google’s new Bolo app for children is currently available on Android as an open beta program. Google announced that in the next six months it will work with four nonprofit partners including Pratham Education Foundation, Room to Read, Saajha, etc., to expand its efforts and popularise the app among more children.

The new Bolo app is available for download in the Google Play Store and it is compatible on smartphones running Android 4.4 and above.

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