Mobile app localization is the process of adapting an app to appeal to users in foreign markets who may speak a different language, have different cultural norms, and/or have different preferences. You want to make sure that the app is just as appealing and easy to use for those users as it is for users in your home market. This applies to both iOS and Android operating systems.
App localization enables the app to fit the needs of users who speak other languages so that everything from units of measurement to currencies and language expressions are optimized. By ensuring that the app can be used by people around the world, you can create a tremendous opportunity for growth. This in turn leads to an increase in the app’s active users and revenue.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when localizing a mobile app:
- Professionally translate all of the strings in the app (Google Translate is not sufficient)
- Change the keyboard language
- Format dates, times, numbers, and currencies to the user’s locale
- Verify time and date for user’s location
- If integrating with web services, convert time between server and app timezones
- Understand and adapt for legal differences
- Account for keywords or slang terms
- Be mindful of anything that could be offensive in other cultures
Always test your app before launching. This can save you from making costly and detrimental mistakes post-launch. The best way to make sure that the app is ready in a new location is to get consumer testing from that country involved. Ideally, these people are bilingual and can aid in translation along with identifying any cultural differences.
Alternatively, there are companies that specialize in translation and localization testing. Depending on cost and complexity, hiring or partnering with one of these organizations may be preferable.
Localization vs. Internationalization
Adapting an app to foreign markets involves both localization and internationalization. While the two may appear synonymous, they are not the same. Localization is the process of translating UI and resources into different languages. This includes but is not limited to, language translations, date and time formatting, number formatting, and currency conversions.
On the other hand, internationalization is the process of designing and building the app to be compatible across multiple markets. It refers to the technical structure of the app and whether it can even accommodate different languages and formats. Is there sufficient space to accommodate strings of different lengths? Is the design flexible enough to avoid clipping text? Does the content of the app translate well to other languages? This step is ideally handled during the design phase, as it can be difficult to change post-launch. Internationalization typically involves designing and developing the app to support non-Latin characters as well as bidirectional text. Internationalization frequently also includes preference options so the user can select their preferred language, date format, timezone, etc.
Localizing your app for Android and iOS will give you:
- Access to a global market. More than half of the world’s mobile subscribers are located in Asia/Pacific. If you launch your app in one language only, your visibility will be greatly reduced in foreign markets.
- Unlimited Sales. The number of mobile phone subscribers globally has reached 8.3 billion subscriptions in 2019.
- A worldwide hit. 90% of activity on mobile devices occurs in apps these days.
- Increased ROI. According to a recent study, companies who localized their apps for iOS and Android saw 128% more downloads.
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