How to Translate Your App in Multiple Languages

Whether you develop smartphone apps, web apps, or software for computers running a certain operating system, it is in your best interest to have a maximally large audience. While promoting your product can go a long way in introducing your app to a larger audience, oftentimes, even greater benefits can be obtained by translating the app. Given that people worldwide are increasingly fluent in English, this is typically the primary language for any developer to opt for when seeking to form a global user base. Following the same logic, translations to other major global languages are performed. For an overview of what these languages are, check this article by Babbel, a subscription-based language learning app developed in Germany – it lists the world’s top 10 languages both by the number of native speakers and by the total number of speakers.

Important Considerations When Translating an App

Below, we list a few important suggestions that could prove useful. So, when planning to translate an app you should consider:

  • The complexity of your translation project. How much translation you will require depends on the type of app. For instance, translating a music playing app or a fitness tracking app typically requires translating only the user interface elements. By contrast, when translating an app that contains a mini-database of healthy diets, the task is obviously more difficult (as the entire database must be translated). Ultimately, this aspect might have a colossal impact on the number of languages you might opt for. Moreover, if updates to the app also require translation, this complicates things even further.
  • Parts of the app that need a translation. If you choose to translate only the app menu, this could be easily done in multiple languages in no time. By contrast, if video content has to be transcribed (like in a game) or if complex instructions, in-app guides, or disclaimers have to be translated, this could take more time, effort, and money, so it might be wise to decide on what does and what does not require translation and what the priorities are.
  • Languages that need to be covered. Ultimately the choice of languages should be informed by the total number of speakers of each candidate language but also by the target market or audience. A relatively unpopular language could be associated with an extremely profitable market segment or a large user base due to the specifics of the app. In a world dominated by competition, finding such a niche could be highly rewarding.
  • Translation services you’ll hire and the desired quality level. There is usually a tradeoff between quality and price, but with translation services listed at, one has to make very few compromises and can hit two birds with one stone. In any case, flexible translation services offer different levels of quality for different prices. While in some apps, errors aren’t critical (for instance, in games), in other situations, they are simply unacceptable (for instance, an electronic wallet or an app destined for payments) and can determine clients to abandon the app altogether. Hence, it is highly advisable to have a clear understanding of the desired level of quality.
  • Technical details required for your translation. For instance, when translating an Android app for Google Play, one has to be aware of the entire localization procedure. Google’s support page suggests that the translations can be performed manually by locating the corresponding file and using a text editor or the Android Studio Translation Editor. Alternatively, one can contract the services of human translators working for the Google Play App Translation service or a third-party app translation service.
  • Using the work of volunteers. This is likely to work particularly well when it comes to non-profit apps advancing a noble cause but can work in many other situations. The volunteers can be rewarded in many ways – they can get free subscriptions, access to advanced features, or can have their names mentioned in a list of contributors. Obviously, you get very few guarantees with regard to the quality of the translation but provided some volunteers translate while others proofread and correct, the end result might be fairly acceptable (although it might take time to get there).

Final Thought

Offering translations for your app can greatly increase its user base. While most spoken languages globally are usually the obvious candidates, it can also make a lot of sense to offer translations in less-spoken languages, in case these are associated with a valuable audience. It all depends on the nature of your app. As for the translation process itself, you could either do it yourself or employ volunteers or third-party translation services. Fortunately, nowadays, translators work not only with text documents but also with video transcripts, websites, applications (games, software for different operating systems), etc., making this a perfectly valid option.

Author’s Bio

Mark is passionate about surveying the content writing industry and analyzing existing specializations as well as discovering emerging and innovative ones. He often dissects how companies in this field are operating, how they are structured, what their client base is. The key focus is obviously on what products or services these companies deliver and how these can be useful to the world.

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