Language Learning Portal and Text-to-Speech Travel Apps

Customer

The Customer is an American company that has been offering language learning solutions to users in over 175 countries since 2012. Their mission is to revolutionize the way people learn languages and assist travelers in everyday communication.

Challenge

To stand out in the market of travel apps with their innovative linguistic vision, the Customer needed to create a travel-oriented language learning solution comprising a web portal and mobile apps for iOS and Android. The Customer expected the apps to provide a text-to-speech feature with native speakers’ pronunciation, implying the use of large amount of media data. As for the web portal, the Customer didn’t have specific requirements, which posed a challenge on its own.

Solution

ScienceSoft developed a solution consisting of Android and iOS apps, which serve as interactive travel phrasebooks, and a learning web portal, where users can take their language skills further.

Mobile apps

ScienceSoft’s design department created native iOS and Android UIs, which later were turned into full-fledged apps by two dedicated mobile development teams.

The final apps offer translation into 8 languages and allow users to:

  • Look for standard translated phrases in the app’s main topics (such as Hotel, Business, and Transport).
  • Build custom phrases from separate words or phrase blocks in their mother tongue and immediately see each block translated in the target language.
  • See phonetic hints on how to pronounce a full phrase correctly.
  • Create a personal collection of phrases for future reference.

Just as the Customer requested, ScienceSoft implemented the text-to-speech feature as well. Each word and phrase block in the app are linked to multiple audio files with native speakers’ pronunciation of the words in their own language. When a user wants to listen to a standard or a custom-built sentence in a particular language, the app assembles and plays the audios for all separate words in sequence.

To let the apps remain lightweight (~40MB each) yet give users convenient access to all necessary media files, including the immense number of audio files, the Cloudflare content delivery network (CDN) was set up.

The learning portal

The web portal goes further than the apps in terms of the learning content while staying true to the principle of prioritizing conversational skills. It also allows users to register and create personal learning spaces.

Due to the absence of solid requirements, many features of the web portal had to be defined and fine-tuned on the fly. Agile development methodology allowed for flexibility that helped ScienceSoft’s web developers to successfully implement the portal.

The learning portal’s administration panel also allows the Customer to:

  • Upload and edit video, audio, and graphic files.
  • Arrange all media materials according to different topics and set up a custom sequence for their presentation.
  • Create training and revision exercises to build learners’ competences.
  • Design and update interactive tests for learners to assess their progress and highlight knowledge gaps.

Thanks to the responsive UI created by ScienceSoft designers, the web portal conveys seamless user experience across all popular desktop and mobile browsers.

Since the web portal was supposed to run on a subscription-based model with a free trial, ScienceSoft also integrated it with Stripe Billing engine, thus ensuring secure money transactions.

Results

The apps received a number of prestigious awards in such categories as Best Education, Best Travel, and New Education Apps in Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Currently, both iOS and Android apps are listed as #1 Education App in App Store and Google Play of 10+ countries.

The Customer scheduled the official release of the web portal for a later date.

Technologies and Tools

iOS: iOS SDK, Xcode, UIKit, CoreData, Ruby and Bash scripts, Git, Jira.

Android: Android SDK, Android Support Libraries, JSON, SQLite, Amazon AWS, Canvas, Background processing, Security data encryption.

Web portal: LAMP stack, PHP, JavaScript, jQuery, Cloudflare CDN, Pimcore CMS, HTML5/CSS media queries, Stripe API.