Suppose you download a fantastic application which is expected to revolutionize the handling of recipes. You find out in its review that it has a live stream video option, direct calling to chef facility, and many more such other features but opens up in only one language, which is English. Well, as a native English speaker, you will probably have no issues using it. But, what if, English is not your preferred language? Then, you are likely to uninstall the app from your phone, isn’t it?
A survey by Common Sense Advisory confirms that more than 50% of countries that are listed in the top 10 countries that download apps are… Non-English speaking. Shocked right? And thus comes into picture app localization and internationalization, using which you can reach out to a higher chunk of potential users. Also, the United States, South Korea, and Japan have the biggest application market in the world. So if you can make your app available in the Japan or Korean market, your half battle is won.
The process of making an application compatible with a particular market is called localization. Localization concentrates on content customization, but internationalization focuses on code customization. Internationalization means making the app technically capable of translating in different languages. This technicality is usually inserted before the launch because, after that, it becomes difficult to handle the changes.
By implementing internationalization, you design and develop applications to support non-Latin alphabets and bidirectional text. However, there are few things that you need to know before you initiate the process, which are:
Be a step ahead:
Since it becomes difficult to modify the code after development, you need to plan your app internationalization ahead.
Do not apply: One-size-fits-all thought process:
If you think that your single code shall get adapted by all the rest of the application, then you are wrong. There are no standards for internationalization. With the changing locales, your app needs to make changes accordingly.
Do not internationalize beyond a point:
Developers of mobile app development companies do over-internationalize thinking that code will be adaptable by the locales. But it is advisable not to do that beyond a point.
Consider local laws:
While releasing a particular application in the market, or a country, you need to make sure that you abide by the laws of that region. If it doesn’t, then in future you may have to change the code and make it compatible.
So now, let us shift our focus on how will you perform app internationalization? Keep scrolling further.
App internationalization for text:
Separate out content from code:
This is the very first step that you need to implement, which is separating the content from the codebase. You do not have to make any of your app’s content static, the reason being, you can create various versions of it in the future, which adapts to each locale on dynamic loading.
Don’t confuse this process as forking code, because you will not be creating various copies of the code, but you will just be making a collection of the content. With this collection in the central repository, you can create different versions of the content. This makes it easier for the development team to concentrate only on the development because the rest of the translator team works separately. You can hire a mobile app developer to do the work for you.
Differentiate the text from the code:
If you think that you need to separate out all the text from your code, then you are wrong. Not all the text gets localized and hence needs not to be extracted. The text types that you will need to extract are:
- Static strings of text;
- Statically defined strings;
- Text present in the user interface, menus, buttons, etc.
- Text loaded from external files;
It is not an easy task to develop an application that changes language instantly on the command. There are many efforts put behind the scenes because it is not simply the change of words, but it is the change of the whole structure of the sentence.
Therefore, word by word translation or concatenating various strings together may end up putting you in a mess. And thus, string interpolation is advisable. By this, you insert variables directly into the string without linking the strings together. Why this is done is because the translator is able to see a full sentence and adapt or change if required.
When you interpolate the strings, you are saving your time of translation, but, while doing this, do not overdo it. Because if you do, the context of the text may change during translation into a different language. Hence, perform string interpolation only if it is required; otherwise, the context of one language doesn’t necessarily mean the same in the other language. This might completely change the meaning of what you wish to deliver.
App localization will not consider your thoughts while reusing the strings.
Numbers and Plural forms:
It’s an obvious thing that different languages will have different numbering systems and plural terms to define a form. Hence, when you have included text in your application code, check the localization rules for plural forms and numbers across the system. It would be great if you research the Unicode’s Language Plural Rules and target locales before you work upon numbers and plural forms.
Mobile app internationalization for Media:
Well, you might wonder why media localization is necessary, isn’t it? Well, not all the time, but many times you have to localize your application media also. The reason being, suppose you have a taxi booking application but have a yellow cab picture on display. Then, the users from the US may get connected with it, but the users from France and Italy may not. Because they have white cabs in use.
Hence depending on the target audience, you may have to localize the media also.
You need to tailor your media in a way that your target audience is able to set up the best connection with the application. The app localization allows you to easily change between the media depending on the need of the application.
Keep the originals intact:
Do not make the mistake of deleting your original source file. This is because you never know when this original source of file can be useful in the localization process.
Just like the text context, media context also matters. Various countries have different rules to define media application and media culture. Hence, research about the country beforehand or else you might get knocked out of the market for bad reasons.
For video localization, you can do two things: You can either create subtitles or dub the video in a particular language. You can easily opt for the first one because it is cost-effective, and you can easily do it rather than dubbing the whole video into another language. Having said that, dubbing into the local language gives an exclusive experience to the user.
We hope that by now, you have understood how and why to perform app localization? One more fact to suffice the argument is, the Common Sense Advisory 2014 survey states that 75% of consumers willingly spend behind apps that are available in their native languages. Also, 70% of Japanese customers purchase products only from the websites having their local language. Hence connect with the best mobile app development company and start the app localization today. Hurry up!!