Google Launches 'Read Along' App That Aims To Help Kids Improving Their Reading Skills

To help kids learn better at home, Google has announced early access for families to its app Read-Along that was first launched in India as Bolo app with an in-app reading buddy named Diya. It's an Android app for children over 5 years old that helps them learn to read by giving verbal and visual feedback as they read stories out loud. Read-Along uses Google's speech recognition technology to help develop literacy skills. After receiving encouraging feedback from parents in India, Google is now sharing this app with more young learners around the globe. "Read Along is now available in over 180 countries and in nine languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hindi," Google said in a statement on Thursday.

Read-Along helps kids independently learn and build their reading skills with the help of reading buddy Diya. As kids read out loud, Diya uses Google's text-to-speech and speech recognition technology to detect if a student is struggling or successfully reading the passage. She gives them positive and reinforcing feedback along the way, just as a parent or teacher would. Children can also tap Diya at any time for help pronouncing a word or a sentence. "Read Along keeps young minds engaged with a collection of diverse and interesting stories from around the world, and games sprinkled into those stories. Kids can collect stars and badges as they learn, which motivates them to keep playing and reading," informed Google.

Parents can create profiles for multiple readers, who tap on their photo to learn at their own pace and to track their individual progress. The Read-Along app will personalize the experience by recommending the right difficulty level of stories and games based on their reading level performance. Google said that Read-Along has no ads or in-app purchases. After the initial download of the app and stories, Read-Along works offline without Wi-Fi or data — helping with worries about unsupervised access to the Internet.

Parents can simply connect to Wi-Fi periodically to download additional stories. "Read Along is also easy to start and doesn't require sign-in. Even the voice data is analyzed in real-time on the device—so that it works offline—and is not sent to any Google servers," said the company.