Duolingo, the increasingly popular language learning service developed by Luis von Ahn and his team, launched its iPad app today. The service, von Ahn tells me, now has more than 5 million active users and the iPad app will be the Duolingo’s first mobile app to implement the company’s innovative monetization strategy.
The new iOS version – the old iPhone app is now a universal download – von Ahn notes, is not just a stretched version of Dulingo. Instead, the team decided to adapt the layout to the larger screen by adding a sidebar that lets you see your most important Duolingo stats (skill points, number of words you have learned, number of consecutive days you’ve used the app, etc.). The sidebar also features Duolingo’s social leaderboard that lets you compare your progress with your friends. Otherwise, the app will look instantly familiar to current Duolingo users on other platforms.
With this update, the iOS version also gets a few small new features, including support for landscape mode.
About half of Duolingo’s traffic, von Ahn says, currently comes from iOS devices and 20% of these use the iPhone app on their iPads. Because of this, and given that iPads are already heavily used in education, the Duolingo team expects to see another uptick in new users after this launch (the Android version, which launched last month, brought over a million new users to Duolingo).
Just like von Ahn previously did with reCAPTCHA, the original idea behind Duolingo was always to use it as the basis for a translation service where students would translate real-world sentences while learning a language. Over time, Duolingo expects to turn this into a tool where businesses can order paid translations from Duolingo’s users. Currently, the service only uses its web app to show these real-world texts from blog posts, news articles and WikiPedia entries, but in the near future, the iOS app will also integrate these features.
It’s worth noting, though, that Duolingo will always remain 100% free for those who want to learn a language. As von Ahn stressed, this means there will be no ads, no freemium model and no “five-easy-payments” plan. The combination of the language learning and translation service, von Ahn says, is “a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties: students receive a high-quality, completely free, language education, and organizations are given human-quality translation services.”