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What is App Localization, and How to Do it Right?

Since their inception, mobile devices have changed the way we spend our time. More than 5 billion people own a mobile device, approximately two-thirds of the world’s population. This number is expected to reach 95% by 2030. With such a proliferation of mobile devices, it’s surprising how little most company’s invest in mobile app localization.

What is App Localization?

First, let’s start with the basics. What is App Localization (or l10n to be fancy)? App localization is the process of adapting mobile applications to a specific country’s market, language, culture, and usage. It’s a process that needs to be professionally executed to have a real impact on your app’s success with the target audience. A service built on human translation will ensure that your localization considers the market, culture, humor, and language nuances.

Conduct market research to prepare your app for localization. Understand the behaviors and goals of consumers along with your competitors. Sometimes, it also means you might want to consider changing your app’s name in a given country.

Look at what other brands are doing in the country. Often, they have done the research and know how best to adapt their brand name to the market. Let’s look at China, the largest market for all iOS and Android apps. Many big brands such as Nike, Pepsi, and LinkedIn decided to transliterate their brand names while localizing. Being able to read your brand name in the local Chinese alphabet is important for market visibility. The more you adapt to local consumers’ market habits, the more likely you are to succeed.

Why is App Localization Essential?

Your app’s visibility and adoption depend on the quality of its localization process. So, you will have to be careful while choosing the right app localization services. Content translation from one language into another does not localize your app and does give you the full benefits of a truly localized app.

In short, what you are trying to achieve by localizing your Android or iOS app is:

  • Global reach for your Android or iOS mobile app
  • High download numbers
  • A good return on investment
  • Memorability and usability

Pokémon GO is an example of successful localization from Japanese to other global markets. “We had to make a lot of changes from the animations and translations, even down to some of the most minute details. We had to swap cigarettes for lollipops, tea ceremonies for other types of gatherings. We had to make kids understand it, and we had to show them how to get to know and enjoy the characters," says Al Knight, head of international marketing of the game app. The game reached a revenue of 830 million USD in its first year (2016).

App Localization, as you can see, is more than just a language translation. It is translating the product or service to meet the overall needs and expectations of foreign consumers.

iOS App Localization

So, how does app localization work for the iOS platform? As you know, Apple has been thriving for years. Currently, its App Store is available in 175 countries and 40 languages. To prepare your app to support multiple languages, Apple’s tools and technologies such as Xcode 11, Apple APIs, Unicode, and Auto Layout will help you both translate and localize your app.

Get Started

Even though certain languages are popular, it doesn’t mean that your app should be localized in them. Before you start localizing, you need to know who your target audience is, their behaviors, and whether or not your product will be viable in your target market. For example, if you are a bike-share app, you would most likely target bike-friendly countries, even if their market size isn’t the largest. Localizing your content into the right languages will result in greater overall adoption of the app.

Test Your Localization

Before launching your localized mobile app, you can use TestFlight to share your app with a select group of users and beta test its performance. This allows you to make localization improvements before releasing the app to the masses.

Prepare for the App’s Page

The first impression is important. If you localize effectively, you have more chance of getting your app noticed on Apple’s App’s page. Don’t forget to localize what you want included on the App’s Page- keywords, app description, and screenshots for each language. It’s also worth mentioning that localizing the app’s name and adjusting keywords for the target language greatly increases engagement.

Evaluate Your Success

Localization doesn’t end when your app is downloadable. You should continue to track both app discovery and engagement. Apple offers App Analytics for developers where you can filter the data by the territories in which you’ve expanded into. You can and should always change your strategy or add additional localization operations once you have identified issues or opportunities from the data.

Android App Localization

Android devices have millions of users in over 190 countries. Mobile app localization for Android devices will, if you choose the right target market, increase your users exponentially.

Android already provides a list of localization libraries with the Software Development Kit. These include number formatting, date and time formats, plural and gender rules, etc.

Do not forget to use Android standard terminology for UI elements such as Notifications, Options Menu, etc. Using Android terms consistently makes localization easier and results in a better experience for end-users.

You can also check out Google’s localization guide before diving into your app localization. As always, don’t forget to localize your product to rank on the App’s page. This includes keywords, app descriptions, and images.

Ready to Localize Your App and reach a Global Audience

If you’re looking for a mobile app localization service for your app localization, you are at the right place! MotaWord, with its 20,000+ professional translators and revolutionary collaborative translation model, will give you the best app translation services while keeping your app translation costs low. For more information on how to localize your app with MotaWord, feel free to email us at or come chat with us through our 24/7 live chat.

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Published on Jun 30, 2021 by KEREM ONEN

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