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How to Successfully Localize Your App for the Global Market

Your app might be globally available, but is it globally ready? iOS app localization and Android app localization are must-have trends in App market these days.

Smartphone users spend 7 times more on mobile apps in US, Russia, Brazil and nearby markets as compared to mobile web markets.

Consumer spendings at Android, iOS and third-party app stores have doubled in past two years and is expected to increase in multiples in coming years. China leads this scenario with over +270% app downloads and spendings, closely followed by US with +75% app spending, neatly lined up by India with +60% Brazil and finally by Russia with +35% app spendings.

According to TechCrunch, global app downloads exceeded 175 billion and revenue crossed $86 billion in China, India, Russia, and Brazil.

Image courtesy : TechCrunch

Making use of translation management system alleviates integrating app localization directly into the app development process. This, in turn, allays creating and deploying best features and user experiences. This translation management technology quickens the app localization process by automating many steps in the process and eliminating delays due to translation.

According to App Annie, China is the largest app market in the world for the time spent in apps. Chinese app users are expected to spend over 200 billion hours in apps in iOS, Android, and all third party play stores. This market is followed by app development India and United States.

According to reports, almost 15% of total internet users speak English, which simply means that you’re missing out on rest 85% of potential users. This calls for app localization.

Customizing the app for a particular local region, culture, market or language is termed as app localization. As soon as the app secures substantial app downloads and potential customers are converted into trusted clients, the next step is to localize the app to make it resistless for the global clients.

Localization helps in adapting the mobile app to the local taste, look, feel and culture.
Giving a competitive advantage to the app, localization helps in exploring untapped markets, enhancing visibility for your brand and attracting number of customers.

How does localization Vs. internationalization differ in app development services?

While the two terms localization and internationalization are used interchangeably but they cannot override each other. Globalization is a midway that must be followed in this case.

What’s Localization in app development?

Localizing the app simply means that it is designed and developed according to the requirements of the local people where it will be launched. It will essentially meet all linguistic, legal, cultural, formats requirements of the region and provide desired look and feel to the people of the region.  One of the benefits of localizing the app is that it will help to take the product to the global market without compromising on the quality.

What’s Internationalization in app development?

Internationalization enables successful localization. It is a set of programming best practices that must be followed while the app is being designed and developed to enable easy localization. In other words, an app that is internationalized can be easily and efficiently localized.

An app must be created keeping internationalization in thought process. It is fundamental in every stage. It will, in turn, involve following the design and development practices that will prepare the application for localization.

How Internationalization vs. Localization works for app development?

Once the app includes internationalization at every stage, localization can be performed for locales of various places. All this can be done without any errors and with least or minimal overhead.

Image Courtesy : Daytranslations

Understanding this with an example: Gregorian months may be the widely used calendar, but these are not official globally. Many countries follow different months and official calendars. If Hijri calendar is the official calendar in Saudi Arabia, there are many other countries that utilize Julian, Hebrew, Iranian, Buddhist, Vikram Samvat, Shaka Samvat, Kali Yuga, Japanese and Chinese calendars.

In addition to this the images, icons, graphics, and animations are as well sensitive to the multicultural audience. While Chinese wow on dragons, it may hold a negative connotation in the Western countries.

It is your choice to choose Globalization tactfully, understanding internationalization and following best practices are important to implement localization.

Which Local Markets Must Be Targeted?

It’s not necessary that you wish to localize your app for all countries. As a first step, it must be determined as which countries you wish to target and which markets and geographies you would give the best results and the countries that have a potential market for your industry.

As an example, if you have a health application that makes the audience aware about the health issues. If you want to target Australia then localizing the app for global expansion must be the next big goal. This will essentially help in saving a lot of time and cost.

What measures must be taken to increase the app downloads in the local market?

Securing the metadata of the app for local markets

All the titles, descriptions, keywords, icons, images, videos, graphics, animations, screenshots etc. constitute the metadata within an app. It is important to optimize this metadata to scale up the ranking and have the right audience visiting the app.  The mix and match of the right keywords must be added and correct texts, visuals, audios, and videos must be added to target the countries and languages.

Next crucial step in this process is to carefully select your brand name. In addition to being localized according to local people, the app name must simultaneously be easy to pronounce, must be easy to be recognized and must also be easily remembered. People must be able to correlate it with a thing of interest. Moreover, the name must be meaningful. If in case, it does not find relevance in the local language, a phonetic equivalent must be looked for in order to keep the brand identity intact.

Communication and culture are closely associated. It is important to ensure that the app is culturally adaptive to the country. It is not necessary that every culture accepts the same characteristics that are prevalent in other cultures.

Optimizing the App Store

Calling a sales presentation a “pitch” is a little misleading. But ASO can really help in targeting the right audience for your business and presenting your app as a shop window to your potential customers. This will, in turn, allow them to stay hooked and prompt them to install your app.

An app is always required to adhere to a word limit (might be a few characters). As an example, iTunes connect has a character limit of 100 for the keywords.

If we try to translate an English word into French, but if that word does not find a place in French dictionary – the entire exercise of localization will be rendered useless. It is mandatory for the word to be relevant to the native app users.

All the elements of the app including description, time, date, promotional text, font color, font style, subtitles, currency, symbols, and keywords must be localized.

A Translator must be hired

Human translators are better off than machine translators as they fail to understand and interpret the sentence structures that vary in different languages. The context and grammar of the sentence cannot be easily understood by machine translators.

As an example – If a facebook like application is to be translated in Portuguese, then the simple meaning of “Like” is “Gostei” but in order to add more meaning and relevance only a native human translator can suggest word like “curti” for the same. This is how localization works.

The local residents for whom the app is created will be able to relish it only if it is localized to their needs. The entire coding, testing, and marketing effort will be useless if the app is not catering to their specifics.

Base Internationalization and Localization in iOS

The reason why internationalization must be used as the base is because Xcode replicates the entire set of storyboard for every localization. If your app is localized into 5 languages, Xcode will generate 5 sets of storyboards for the purpose of localization.  Along with these advantages, one point that is crucial to localization is that whenever a new UI element is added in the storyboard, that same element must be added for every localization, which often becomes a tedious process. For this very reason base internationalization was introduced in Xcode 4.5 by Apple.


Although translation is a part of localization, localization isn’t the same process as translation. It involves translation of text including other elements like images, sound, and graphics to suit to the need of local audience. This will include different display formats of numerical values like date and time. How to successfully localize your app for global market? The smartest way to localize your app can be by making use of a robust translation management system.

The simplest way an app selects localization is by going to language settings > General > International > Language. This preference acts as the key for accessing the localized resources for the requested language.

As a very simple example, to create a localized application of Book Store that is available in English and need to be localized for French market, the factors that must be considered are:

> The text in the storyboards must be changed

> The cover image must be changed

> The dynamic message displayed by code must be changed

> The name of the app must be changed and displayed on home screen

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