Google launches free WiFi in South Africa, new reading app and more

Google ends free WiFi

At its first Google for South Africa event in Johannesburg last week, Google announced a range of new products and features launching in the country for locals to enjoy, including free WiFi hotspots in the Cape Flats.

Called Google Stations, the new hotspots are available in over 100 locations around Philippi, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Langa and other “underserved” areas in Cape Town, thanks to a partnership between Google and ThinkWifi.

“By gaining access to information via the internet, we hope that people in these communities will get a more equal opportunity to learn and develop and live more empowered lives,” said Google Africa director Nitin Gajria.

According to the company, Google Stations give users access to fast, free and uncapped WiFi in 30-minute intervals that can be renewed by simply reconnecting to the service whenever it expires.

This means that users in these areas now have access to an unlimited supply of free WiFi to go about their daily lives and stay connected.

Google launches Bolo

Additionally, Google also launched Bolo, a speech-based reading app designed to help primary school children improve their English literacy.

Bolo reading app

“It encourages them to read out loud and then provides individual, customised feedback to help improve their reading capabilities,” Google explained.

Previously available in India, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, Bolo works offline and features a reading assistant called Diya as well.

Children can also choose from a number of local stories to read through the app.

Currently, Bolo can be downloaded for Android on Google Play.

Google’s other plans for South Africa

Together with Google Stations and Bolo, Google further revealed updates to Google Go in South Africa and a new Cameos app for local celebrities.

Google Go, in fact, now features support for the Assistant and a “read out loud” feature in Search.

This means that those who use the lightweight version of Google can now access the Assistant and have websites or search results read out to them.

Cameos, meanwhile, will now appear in Search when South Africans Google their favourite celebrities.

“Cameos, a selfie-style video app, allows celebrities and public figures to answer questions about themselves directly within Google Search,” the company explained.

All Google’s new products and features are now rolling out in South Africa.

Feature image: Google

Shereesa Moodley


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