Google has launched a website for its Read Along app for encouraging young children to practice reading. The website, which is introduced as a public beta, works with Chrome, Firefox and Edge browsers on Desktop and Android, with support for iOS and more browsers such as Safari coming soon.
The concept of the website is similar to the app: Children can learn to speak languages like English, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Urdu by reading stories using Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech text. A virtual assistant named Diya helps the children pronounce words if it detects they are struggling. Children can also ask Diya for help in speaking unknown words.
The company claimed that just like the app, all the speech recognition process takes place on the browser locally and no data is sent to its servers to protect children’s privacy. Plus, the whole experience is ad-free.
While the app had the advantage of offline usage, the website can help people who have low storage on the phone or schools that have desktop computers. One of the other major differentiators between the website and the app is that the latter works without any sign-in. The new website mandates Google account sign-ins on the same device to keep track of the progress of different children.
Google first launched the app as Bolo in India in 2019 with support for Hindi and English and renamed it Read Along with additional language support for a wider audience in 2020. The search giant noted that since its launch the app has helped more than 30 million kids read over 120 million stories.
The company said it’s partnering with new content providers to add more stories to the platform.
“In addition to the website launch, we are also adding some brand-new stories. We have partnered with two well-known YouTube content creators, ChuChu TV and USP Studios, to adapt some of their popular videos into a storybook format,” it said in a statement.
The firm is also working with India-based Kutuki learning app to adopt their English and Hindi alphabet books and phonics books for kids as stories in the Read Along app, which will be available later this year.