Duolingo, the popular free language learning service, just launched its first mobile app for Android in Google’s Play store. Until now, the service was only available on the web and iPhone, but as the company’s founder Luis von Ahn told me earlier this year, the Android version has long been on the roadmap.
For the most part, the Android version will have all of the features of the current iPhone app, but Android users will have to wait a few weeks before they will get to use Duolingo’s recently introduced speech recognition. Thanks to this, the service’s iPhone users can currently go beyond just focusing on reading and writing in a new language and also start speaking. The service then uses speech recognition to check how close the user’s pronunciation is to a native speaker.
On Android, von Ahn tells me, this feature will also launch soon, but it wasn’t included in the current release yet as they are a bit harder to implement and the team decided to focus on getting a polished Android app out as soon as possible. The Android version will also soon allow users to cache about an hour’s worth of lessons for offline use.
The app will, however, feature a number of online-only exercises that were specifically designed to be used with mobile keyboards. Because it’s hard to type on a small mobile keyboard, some exercises allow users to enter answers by tapping on full words instead of having to type them. Of course, the app will also feature all of the standard (and highly effective) Duolingo exercises.
As von Ahn told me earlier this week, the service currently has about 3 million users. He believes that given the popularity of Android in Duolingo’s large target market of Latin America, this new version will help it to double the number of active users very quickly. As he also noted, this is also exactly the market the company is trying to reach and as he told me earlier this year, the service’s users in Latin America tend to use the service more often and for longer than in other regions.