Chatbots offer an interesting way to interact with technology, simulating human-like answers to questions through artificial intelligence (AI). Aside from entertainment, companies are finding new productive uses for chatbots every day. Google's new messaging app, Allo, for example, uses a chatbot format as a means of interacting with Google Assistant, which can answer complex questions in a natural way. Now, Duolingo, one of the most well-known language learning apps, has found a new use for chatbots – helping users practice language-learning by having a conversation with a bot directly from within the app.
The chatbot includes three languages to choose from, French, Spanish, and German. Users can engage in conversations in each of these languages and can choose from many different topics of conversation. There is also a button labelled "help my reply," which will provide suggestions if the user doesn't know how to respond to something the chatbot says. While this won't provide quite the same natural response as talking to a native speaker would, they do give users a way to practice natural conversation with more flexibility than pre-written sentences could offer. To give the chatbots a bit of variety, there are different personas, each of which will respond to questions a bit differently. In its current form, the chatbot feature will only help you learn to read and write in a different language, but won't help learn the correct pronunciation of words. The company is, however, working on developing a spoken version of the app which would allow users to speak to it, and receive a verbal response to help them learn not only how words are written, but how they should be said as well.
Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, chatbots are only available in the iOS version of Duolingo. It is likely that they will come to Android really soon, but for now, if you want to try it out, you'll need to be using an iOS device. However, if you'd like to test out some of the other features the app offers on your Android device, it is available in the Google Play Store via the link below.