Mobile App Localisation

Last Updated On: May 19, 2020

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Mobile apps are becoming more and more in demand, so anyone who has developed a mobile app will want to attract as much interest in it as possible. To gain the most your app will need to be customized so that it will attract a great number of different users. This means going offshore and developing the app in a range of languages. This is typically called mobile app. localizing and is a way of reaching the global market. If an app is localized well it can expand its sales by up to 128% per country with a 26% rise in revenue for every country which is added as part of the app localization campaign. Amazingly, these sorts of increases have occurred within a week of the app. localization.The process of app localization

Localization is the process used to customize an app so it works in several other languages apart from the source language. Localization may include different variants of the same language including its dialects. These are called locales and examples of these are the English spoken in Britain, USA, Australia, and Canada, where word usages aren’t always identical when expressing a meaning.They are given codes as follows:

  • en_US: English in the United States
  • en_UK: English in the United Kingdom
  • en_CA: English in Canada



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    The language code is sometimes used if typically the language isn’t spoken in any other country. For example:

    • lt: Lithuanian
    • fi: Finnish
    • tr: Turkish

    Good reasons to localize a Mobile App

    There is a very good reason for this, as in 2017 in the U.S. there were about 238 million phone users. Overall, globally, there are 4.93 billion. China, according to a study called App Annie, discovered that cash spent using mobile apps is more than anywhere else in the world.  India takes 2nd place and the U.S. follows in 3rd place.

    Non-English speakers make up 50 percent of countries who are in the top 10 for downloading and revenue gained in the iOS App Store. Google Play is even higher and non-English speakers are in the top 5 for downloading and for the revenue collected by Google Play. Globally, 41 percent of app revenue in total came from Asian countries, while North America generated just 31 percent and Europe 23 percent. This means just keeping your app in English is of little use if you want to gain exposure worldwide.

    Mobile App Localisation is different from Mobile App Internationalisation

    These are two different processes that need different approaches. The process of internationalization (i18n) is when you customize your code to prepare it for localization so that it can be modified and translated into multiple languages. It is essential to have mobile app translations for app localization. Therefore localization is customizing your content while internationalization is customizing your code. Internationalization has to come first because your code has to be available to for your localized content once it’s been created. Basically, it’s more difficult to change the internalization code after it’s been created. Before beginning the journey of content localization you have to ensure the app is ready and can be localized. If the content for your app is hard-coded, you won’t have any way you can localize it by altering the content depending on different locales.

    Getting started with mobile app localization

    Firstly you have to consider which languages you want as part of the localization process. Localizing an app. in a new locale isn’t in the first place free so you have to make a wise decision based on profit maximization. Where you localize will in part depend on what your app is so for example if it’s a soccer app you are most likely to choose soccer-mad countries like Britain, Germany, and Brazil. That’s two languages to contend with, apart from your own. The locales codes for these countries are en_UK, de_DE and pt_BR.

    Research competitors

    This is a great way to see what’s going on in your market area. App Annie compiles statistics about apps and how they are doing internationally. From this, you can find out the best-performing markets and focus on them in your localization campaign.

    New languages or locales

    You may think it’s easier and more lucrative to adapt to another locale but you may find that in fact taking on a new language is beneficial. For example, forming an en_UK locale from a current en_US locale seems like an easy option but you would be going a step further if you chose an en_ES locale and moved into the market of Spanish speakers.

    Expanding regionally

    You may think moving into Korea or China might be lucrative, but it’s far easier to choose a locale that has the same alphabet, numbers and date format which means it is quicker and more efficient to create many languages. For example, if English is your default language, it’s far less complicated to begin your localization in European countries such as France, Spain, and Germany.

    If you aren’t sure where to start, look at the statistics for internet use. In June 2017, the top languages were:

    • English – 25.3 percent


    • Chinese – 19.8 percent


    • Spanish – 8 percent


    • Arabic – 4.8 percent


    • Portuguese – 4.1 percent


    • Malaysian/Indonesian – 4.1 percent


    • Japanese – 3 percent


    • Russian – 2.8 percent


    • French – 2.8 percent


    • German – 2.2 percent


    Finding the right translators is a key to localization and that doesn’t mean using online free translators like Google Translate that could quite easily let you down and create such a poor translation that your app will be ignored. A good human translator has the experience and know-how to help put your app on the world map, which is your ultimate goal. They are aware of the influence different cultures have over language and can assist you to modify your content so any cultural differences like the use of language that might seem offensive are avoided.

    Customize Your Text

    One of the first and most fundamental steps of localization is to get all of the text in your app translated into a different language or locale. This is usually done using an XML or XLIFF file, which includes all of the components of your app so that they can easily be translated into another language.

    Some people believe that localization is just translating the app’s text into other languages or locales but this is just part of the app localization process. You also must customize the content of your app so it fits into a different locale. This could mean altering a number of things such as the use of:

    • images
    • text
    • date format
    • video
    • audio
    • numbers
    • currency

    App Store and Google Play shouldn’t be forgotten

    A final note about app localization is remembering to localize your app page in Google Play or the App Store. These are often the first places people go when looking for an app. If you have forgotten to customize your app page but have customized your app for different locales some people may never find your app. Your app store content will need to be localized for:

    • keywords
    • text
    • videos
    • app previews
    • screenshots
    • in-app purchases

    Now you can get on with reaping the rewards of your app from app localization.

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