Localization used to be a part of the app scaling strategy. But not anymore. Today, when users download a mobile application, they already expect it to match their language preferences. So no matter what stage of the app development you're in, localization should be part of it.
The good news, localization is no longer a process that slows down everything. If done with the right technology, it is smoothly integrated into the development process and becomes an integral part of the app life cycle.
Let's discuss automation in the app localization, sharing translations between Android and iOS localization projects, and providing context for translators.
You'll also learn about string localization without resource files and export Android XML and Strings files if the sources were uploaded in other formats.
What is app localization?
App localization refers to the practice of optimizing app functionality and content based on the user's location. The tactic is used to adapt a product to a specific locale or market, in order to ensure that users have a smooth journey to an in-app conversion.
There is an important difference between internationalization and localization. Internationalization is the adaptation of a product for potential use almost anywhere, whereas localization refers to the addition of special functions for use in a certain region. Internationalization is carried out at the initial stages of development, while localization is made for each target language.
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Why should I localize my app?
App stores, such as the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, have become real relays in the distribution of Apps in other countries because they provide you with a convenient way to reach an international audience.
The localized app will then allow you to enter a new market and increase your number of downloads, users, and the overall visibility of your App in that particular region, specifically by exposing it to a whole new user community. This is where the advantage of localizing your Mobile App comes into play.
Localization allows companies to open the door to an international market. App Localization helps you make sure that your App fits the needs of users who speak other languages so that everything from units of measurement to currencies and idiomatic expressions is optimized for them and their local region. The goal is for the Localized App to be perceived by a native speaker as if it had been made locally.
By ensuring that your App is appealing to users in a wide variety of locations around the world, you create tremendous opportunities for growth that you could never have achieved within the market of just one country.
The importance of localization
Both Google Play and Apple App Store are now available in almost every corner of the world. Apple supports 155 countries in 28 languages and Google Play has free applications available worldwide in 46 different languages.
App stores now want everyone to have a seamless experience on their smartphones – irrespective of the location they are in or the language they are comfortable with. In turn, this gives developers the chance to grow their apps across the globe in a bigger target market and with larger market opportunities.
In fact, some of the top apps already use localization as an integral part of their marketing and user engagement strategies. About 13% of marketers believe that location-based personalization gives their apps the opportunity to tap into untapped markets and get a competitive edge.
One of the most recent and most effective examples of app localization is Pokémon Go. Remember how the game notified you every time a pokemon was close by, even when you were on the go?
Did it not nudge you to jump right into the game and not let that Pokémon be captured by anyone else? While it was a competition for you, it actually added to the game's app sessions and engagement rate, helping it grow even further.
The importance of cultural differences in localization
When it comes to App Localization, there are various criteria to take into account, one of the core ones being cultural differences.
Translation alone won't be sufficient for the Localization of your App; you need to consider the region or country it will be localized for beforehand. Each culture has its specifics, symbols, codes, and meanings.
For example, Greek or Arab people use a completely different alphabet than the Latin one, where the characters take more space, and, as a result, will most likely require changes to the interface elements to fit in all of the characters of that language.
As mentioned earlier, successful Localization is a process of adapting and translating your App for the target market, while retaining the functionality and the intent of the original App.
Some references in the source language of your App may not make sense when adapted to other cultures; for example, colours, which have different connotations from culture to culture.
Internationalization and localization
An internationalized App does not equal a fully localized app; it's instead a preceding step. While App Localization is all about refining the details (such as language, date and time, currency, and other factors discussed above), app internationalization is about providing the App with the necessary framework for further Localization.Internationalization generally involves:
Design and development of an App in a way that removes barriers to international alphabetic characters. Such as, Localization into Arabic, which is written right to left and requires a completely different interface layout.
Allowing the code to support local, regional, language, or cultural preferences. Typically, this involves incorporating predefined data and localization features derived from existing libraries or user preferences. For example, date and time formats, local calendars, and others.
Separating localizable elements from the source code or content, so that localized alternatives can be loaded or selected based on the user's international preferences, as required.
Internationalization facilitates future Localization, so it needs to be conducted as a preceding step before starting the actual localization process, as your code needs to be prepared to handle the localized content.
As opposed to Localization, Internationalization involves extensive technical planning, which is necessary to achieve a smooth localization process. It is significantly harder to modify the code of an App after it has been localized, as the developer will commonly not understand the target language.
Shared project for both android and iOS apps
Usually, iOS and Android app versions have much of the same content. You can translate your Android and iOS mobile apps within the same project and hide similar strings, so translators don’t have to translate the same strings twice. Or you can choose to localize either the Android or iOS app first, and then download translations in the corresponding format, such as Android XML or Strings.
Hide duplicates not to translate content twice
When configuring the project settings, enable the Hide duplicates option, and similar strings will be shown only once for translators. The duplicated strings will get the translation of the master string automatically. In this case, a master string is the one that was added to the project first.
Unify placeholders for iOS and android strings
To treat more strings as duplicates, you can unify placeholders within iOS and Android strings used in the same project. For example, Hello, %s! (Android) and Hello, %@! (iOS) will be matched as duplicates and will be shown to translators as Hello, [%s]! On export, you’ll get files with the placeholders in their original formatting.
Translate, localize and test your application
In addition to translating and localizing, we can also test the localized application for different markets. Ideally, one should both localize translations as well as test them prior to a full launch.
You can get in touch with Trusted Translations to request a quote for the translation, localization and testing of your app. In addition, you can contact us for consulting services pertaining to translating, localizing and testing apps for Android, Apple iOS, BlackBerry or Windows.
App localization for different devices
All devices are different, especially in size. For this reason sometimes when we translate, we need to measure character space. For example, a BlackBerry's screen is much smaller than the screens for newer Android or Apple devices. Hence, it is important to take into account the maximum number of characters for each string, since the text must have a specific size in order to fit on the device's screen.
For apps running on Android, Windows and BlackBerry, most likely only one localization will be necessary for all the devices.
However, Apple iOS may require a special localization effort considering the fact that it allows for a tailor-made user experience for the iPad, iPad Mini, iPod and iPhone apps.