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Google Launches a Free App ‘Bolo’ For Kids in India

All the reading material on the app is completely free and the initial catalogue from Storyweaver.org.in includes 50 stories in Hindi and 40 in English,

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Google on Wednesday launched a free app called “Bolo” that parents can download to help primary grade children improve their Hindi and English reading skills.

Launched in India first, the app is designed to work offline and comes with a built-in reading buddy, “Diya”, who encourages, aids, explains, and corrects the child, as they read aloud.

Google said it would not collect any data on children through the app and it would not have any advertisement.

“Nothing is ever sent to Google through the app – not even the voice samples,” Nitin Kashyap, Product Manager, Google India, told IANS, adding that the app is meant for just 10-15 minutes of daily use.

He added that because the app works offline, there is less chance that children would get distracted and they would start doing something else online.

“But should children get access to the phone or not is one area where we would not like to take a position on. That is a personal decision that every parent should make for their child,” Kashyap said.

Google
The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

Google said it has been piloting Bolo with over 900 children in 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh with the help of ASER Centre, a research and assessment unit of Pratham Education Foundation.

With the app, 64 per cent of children showed an improvement in reading proficiency in just three months, it added.

As per the ASER 2018 report, of all the students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India, only about half can confidently read a grade 2 level textbook. Lack of reading ability can significantly impact further education, and ultimately the children’s ability to realise their full potential.

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“With Bolo, we aim to encourage and engage kids so their love for reading grows and it becomes a daily habit. We believe that technology can be a powerful enabler, and we want to ensure that students, parents, teachers and the education ecosystem, benefit from it,” Kashyap said.

All the reading material on the app is completely free and the initial catalogue from Storyweaver.org.in includes 50 stories in Hindi and 40 in English, Google said, adding that it plans to add more stories soon. (IANS)

Next Story

India Becomes the Second Largest Smartphone Market After China: Report

India surpasses US to become 2nd largest smartphone market

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The Indian smartphone market surpassed the US for the first time on an annual level. Pixabay

New Delhi: Riding on Chinese brands, the India smartphone market surpassed the US for the first time on an annual level and this is the latest science and technology news, becoming the second-largest smartphone market after China globally — reaching 158 million shipments in the calender year 2019 with 7 per cent (YoY) growth, a report from Counterpoint Research said on Friday.

While Xiaomi continued to be the top player with 28 per cent market share in the calendar year 2019, Samsung was second with 21 per cent and Vivo at 16 per cent market share, said Counterpoint’s ‘Market Monitor’ service.

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India has now become the second-largest smartphone market after China globally. Pixabay

“Although the rate of growth for smartphone market hit single digit for the first time ever on an annual basis, India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets with 4G penetration in terms of subscribers being around 55 per cent,” said Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint.

“Chinese brands share hit a record 72 per cent for the year 2019 as compared to 60 per cent share a year ago.

“This year, we have seen all major Chinese players expanding their footprint in offline and online channels to gain market share. For instance, Xiaomi, realme, and OnePlus have increased their offline points of sale while brands like Vivo have expanded their online reach with Z and U series,” said Anshika Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint.

Over the past four years, Xiaomi, Vivo, and OnePlus have grown 15 times, 24 times and 18 per cent, respectively.

“This highlights that OEMs are mature enough to capture next wave of growth and expand their operations in India,” Jain added.

Smartphone
Although the rate of growth for smartphone market hit single digit for the first time ever on an annual basis, India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets with 4G penetration in terms of subscribers being around 55 per cent. Pixabay

Samsung shipments remained almost flat (YoY) while it has shown a 5 per cent (YoY) decline in 2019.

“This is for the first time Samsung transitioned to a completely new portfolio targeting different channels (offline with A series and online with M series). However, it needs to double down its efforts to keep the momentum going,” the report noted.

While the smartphone market registered YoY growth, the feature phone market witnessed a steep decline of nearly 42 per cent YoY in 2019 and 38 per cent (YoY) in Q4 2019.

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“This is due to slowdown in the new shipments from Reliance Jio. However, the players such as itel, Lava, Nokia and Micromax registered positive annual
growth despite the overall segment declined showing the untapped potential of the market,” said the report.

In fact, itel emerged as the number one feature phone brand in Q4 2019, followed by Samsung and Lava. (IANS)