The Government of India has formed a four-member technical committee which will supervise the development of software ecosystem on Aakash 2 Tablet, reports The Times Of India. The committee will be responsible for the release of applications for Aakash in the education sector, in coming years.
The report claims that about 25 academic institutions and private companies including IITs, American Digital University, Mango Learning, TopChalks, Digital BackPack and ITZCash, among others, have signed up to build applications for Aakash. The government aims to double the count by March 2013. The British Council in India will be developing apps such as an English learning app and an app to prepare students for interviews. IIT Bombay is working on SciLab which will port engineering software to the tablet, Clicker-a live assessment tool for instant quizzes, and Proximity – an app that will make lectures of IIT professors available to students. US based Mango is developing apps that will teach Maths through games. Noida-based SmartID is developing biometric apps to expand the use of the Aakash device for authentication.
Another interesting development is that IIT Madras will be training 5,000 engineering students with a four day crash course on building apps for Aakash, in the hope that a few of them might come up with a business around Aakash or develop a few applications for the tablet. Currently, Aakash 2 comes with 24 applications including apps for games, chat, and email. The tablet needs more India and education-centric applications.
Pricing: Few of the apps will be made available for free, however, others will be charged for, depending on the developers. It’s unclear how the government plans to deliver these apps on the tablet — through Google’s Play Store or by building its own App Market. Aakash 2 already has Google Play Store installed on the tablet, which should make things easier for developers.
Our views: The Aakash 2 tablet had a rough start with controversies around manufacturing of the device. While the world is abuzz over the tablet’s availability at the subsidized cost of Rs 1,130 to students, the market will appreciate the unique selling point of the tablet only once the tablet is loaded with educational content. Currently, the tablet market is trying hard to cash in on the education sector, however, every solution needs students to make a hefty initial investment. Even telecom operators and handset manufacturers such as Airtel and BlackBerry along with Vodafone have tried foraying into the segment by launching education related services via SMS, IVR and WAP. However, the experience delivered by these services is far from intuitive. This is where Aakash 2 has an advantage as the initial investment in procuring the device is not that large, and students can keep on adding content as they wish and the tablet’s large screen will make the learning experience easy.
Other developments: HCL Learning, the education and talent development division of HCL Infosystems, has launched MyEduWorld, an interactive learning app that includes school curriculum in digital format. In August 2012, e-learning company iProf Learning Solutions, which offers a personal education tablet device and runs a chain of Wi-Fi-enabled e-learning centers across India, launched an online service, TheDigiLibrary.com. The service offers content for entrance exam coaching for IIT JEE, AIPMT, CAT, Civil Services courseware, CBSE 11th Medical and non medical sections, CBSE 12th Medical and Non Medical, ICSE 10th Science and Maths, and English Speaking.
Vriti, an e-learning company, had partnered with Tata McGraw-Hill Education to launch free, online ‘Smart Courses’ for Engineering and Management on Android tablet devices. Minglebox also provides Android apps for CAT/MAT/XAT and AIEEE entrance exams.