It’s a few months late, but the Indian Government has finally unveiled Aakash 2, the successor to the original Aakash tablet launched in October last year. The tablet was launched by the Indian president Pranab Mukherjee and the Human Resources & Development (HRD) Minister MM Pallam Raju on the occasion of National Education Day at Vigyan Bhawan.
Similar to the original Aakash, this Android based tablet has been designed, developed and manufactured by Datawind for supply to IIT Bombay, under the HRD Ministry’s National Mission on Education through Information & Communication Technology (NME-ICT).
Distribution: According to the press statement, Datawind will be providing 100,000 units of Aakash 2 to IIT Bombay in the first phase, which in turn intends to distribute these tablets to Engineering students across various colleges and universities. The government intends to distribute these tablets to over 220 million Indian students in the coming years.
Pricing: Datawind said that the tablet will distributed to students at a subsidized cost of Rs 1,130, as indicated by a Times Of India report. The company mentioned that the market price of the tablet is Rs 2,236, however the Government has subsidized its cost by 50%, allowing them to offer the tablets at a subsidized cost.
Apps on Aakash Tablet: As per the media statement, IIT Bombay has developed several applications for engineering students on the Aakash 2 platform. These include 3D Modelling, C++ programming, remote and collaborative training applications, robotic control and live assessment tools. It is currently not clear if the institution has developed these apps in-house or it has partnered with any firm to develop these apps. That being said, the Institution mentioned that it had partnered with the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) for hardware testing and logistics.
Device Specs: Aakash 2 runs on Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ and features a 7″ multi-touch capacitive display with a resolution of 800*480. Other specs include a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal flash memory and connectivity options like micro USB and micro-SD slot with support up to 32GB memory cards.
Commercial Version of Aakash 2: Datawind also stated that Aakash 2 tablet will be available commercially as UbiSlate 7Ci, which was launched by the company in September 2012 and is currently available for purchase from Datawind website and the UbiSlate website at Rs 4,499. When we checked, we noticed that both the sites currently allow users to purchase the tablet through various payment options like Online payment, Cheque and Demand Draft (DD) and Cash On Delivery (COD). The company has tied up with the payment gateway CCAvenue for online payment, which currently offers various payment modes like net banking for several banks, cash card payments through Done card, ICash Card, Itz Cash, and OxiCash cash cards and mobile payments through State Bank Of India and Paymate.
The company claimed that tablets booked through online payment mode will be shipped in one week from the date of purchase, while the tablets booked through cheque and demand drafts will be shipped in 3-4 weeks from the date of purchase and the tablets booked through COD will be shipped in 8-12 weeks from the date of purchase.
Aakash in Education Initiative: A Deccan Chronicle report also suggests that the Government has selected 244 engineering colleges across India to set up remote centres for a new initiative called ‘Aakash in Education’. While the details on this initiative are a bit sparse at the time of writing this article, the report indicates that it is an online learning platform which will offer live interactive classes from IIT professors to Engineering students. The government seems to have partnered with IIT Bombay for this initiative.
It’s worth noting that the Indian Government had launched a similar education portal called Sakshat which was meant to offer high-quality educational content in form of e-books, e-journals and video lessons to facilitate self-learning and open sharing of free, high-quality educational content to students, teachers and others. However, unlike Aakash in Education initiative, this portal was intended to offer learning materials across all fields of study including vocational education and learning for life skills from Kindergarten up to College. At the time of writing this article, the site offers live streams of IGNOU’s educational television channels Gyan Darshan 1, Gyan Darshan 2 and FM radio station Gyan Vani.
Aakash Project Timeline:
April 23, 2012: Upgraded Aakash Tablet To Be Launched In May; DataWind Vs IIT-Rajasthan
Apr 17, 2012: Aakash Tablet: Govt. Accepted 650 Out Of 6440 Tablets; Spat Between DataWind & Quad
Feb 21, 2012: Aakash Tablet Project – Govt Dumps Datawind; MediaNama’s RTI
Feb 3, 2012: Uncertainty Around The Future Of The Aakash Tablet
Dec 15, 2011: Aakash Tablet Available Online for Rs 2500; Ubislate 7 in Jan 2012
November 2, 2011: What They’re Saying About The Aakash Tablet
October 5, 2011: Indian Govt’s $35 Tablet Finally Launches As Aakash; Costs Rs 2250
Sep 29, 2011: Indian Govt Expected To Launch $35 Tablet On 5th October
Jan 20, 2011: $35 Laptop Still A Distant Dream; HCL’s Tender Cancelled: Report
Sep 03, 2010: HCL Wins Contract For 100,000 $35 Tablets For India
Aug 12, 2010: India To Distribute 1 Million Units Of Its $35 Tablet In 2011; Demo
Aug 09, 2010: OLPC India Now Targets 1M XOs In 2010; Negroponte Writes About $35 Tablet
Jul 23, 2010: India Government Develops $35 Tablet; What Can It Do? Features, How It Was Built
Feb 04, 2009: The $10 Laptop: A Myth
– Datawind Launches Four New UbiSlate Android Tablets; Content Tie-Ups
– Datawind Debuts Ubislate 7+ and 7C Tablets; Content Partnerships
– Apps Update: Datawind Partners With GetJar; EdServ’s 2tion Apps Debut On Amazon App Store