Best Practices

How to Implement Localization in Android

Often, app developers or product managers who are considering how to implement localization in Android expect to engage with a localization partner only once they’ve got everything ready on their end. This is a mistake in the long run.
Gabriel Fairman
2 min

Localization is an ongoing relationship that works best when it starts early. Often, app developers or product managers who are considering how to implement localization in Android expect to engage with a localization partner only once they’ve got everything ready on their end. This is a mistake in the long run.

How to Implement Localization in Android Effectively

Localization in Android is a sweet spot: due to the reasonable price point of many Android-powered devices, the OS has the greatest penetration globally. At the same time, Android localization is relatively simple—easier than it is for iOS and web apps. Don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of Android’s wide reach as you move to localize your product.Here are some important considerations for how to keep up with your markets around the world and get them interested in your app:

Don’t Underestimate the Need for Knowledgeable Translators

When the translations reflect the high quality of your content as far as local users are concerned, your app converts. But when translations are inauthentic or inappropriate for the target market, users are confused and disappointed, and they’re likely to bounce.

A good translator has to capture the voice and intent of your content, not just the words, to make the user experience as vivid in translation as it is in the source language.

The translators’ work doesn’t stop there. It’s critical that they know what commands are already formally incorporated into the local Google operating system. Localization for Android requires an understanding of standard terms and prompts in a target language; missing those particular translations may make your app inaccessible from the user’s perspective or even from a functional perspective.In other words, authentic localization requires an understanding of how local users are actually relating to Android apps.

For example, if you were encouraging a user to sign up for “Alerts” but the term as it relates to their OS settings is “Notifications,” you may have already lost their trust and their interest. If users are unsure about any aspect of your app or its translations, they may decide to skip to another option altogether. The same is true for iOS, of course, and this is a major reason why enterprises maintain separate translation memories and term bases for Android and iOS localization workflows.

Empower Your Teams with Proactive Localization Tools

Effective localization management is key to your app’s success. Keeping up with your markets is a nonstop job, and glitches or bottlenecks could mean delays or incomplete translations upon release. Much of the work actually involves moving things around, assigning projects, aligning file formats, and other housekeeping chores.

An automated platform can implement these tasks quickly and efficiently with minimal human involvement. A sophisticated localization management platform can immediately recognize new content strings in need of translation and feed them into an integrated workflow of continuous localization.

Good translation takes time. If your app has a fast release cycle, human translators will not be able to keep up with every update in real time. To avoid delays in local updates or English strings that interrupt translated content, you need a strategy to bridge the gap during those cycles—before a linguist can give full attention to updated content strings.

Good quality machine translation provides a highly viable stopgap during that time. And continuous localization tools can automate this process as well, so you see minimal interruptions on the way to a fully localized product.As a comprehensive localization platform brings all collaborators together in one place, translators benefit from these tools and consistent processes as well. Up-to-date style guides and terminology databases help them to preserve the integrity of your brand and your Android product even as they bring their own expertise from the target market perspective. Translators will find that they are continually adding to these term bases, too, in order to keep up with iterations of the app, user feedback, and the team’s learning curve. Consistency across diverse markets becomes possible.

Learn to Listen to Your Target Markets

Listening to users is important at every step of localization. Even before you begin, analyzing Google Play Store data can help you determine which global markets yield the most downloads of your app and others like it. This analysis can help you prioritize markets for your localization strategy.As you become established in various markets, you’ll have opportunities to learn from user feedback to improve your app and your localized content.

This can be a mixed blessing as you process users’ impressions and weigh the value of following up on complaints and suggestions. The ideas generated by feedback may concern collaborators at different levels, from developers to translators, but approach with caution as you continue to keep the bigger-picture strategy in mind.

The importance of listening to user feedback when compiling your local term bases cannot be overestimated. Users are the ultimate judges of your localization success, so having a mechanism in place to receive feedback is crucial. However, keep in mind that users aren’t necessarily the best judges of translation.

Complaints by one or a few users may not represent the feelings of the majority. And these protests may not warrant immediate revisions in translation.Do look for patterns in usability issues that then need to be traced back to either problems with localization or on the development level. Your commitment to listening carefully and acting thoughtfully may be one of your most important angles in keeping up with your markets.

Embrace a Global Marketing Approach

Your localization partner can help you in diverse ways. They are there to remind you that localization doesn’t stop at your app. It needs to extend to your marketing content, or else international users aren’t going to find it.It will be critical that you curate content in the Google Play Store for your target markets. Translated keywords need to match what local users are actually searching.

Translated app descriptions need to speak to what users want and what they can expect to find in your product. Linguists need to be aware of localized Google Play standards for the item storefront, or your app may not rank.Once your app launches in a market, you may need localized marketing support beyond the app store. It might be press releases and marketing materials, trainings, or promotional events—every market will be different.

That is why it is so important that your localization partner doesn’t just understand how to implement localization in Android, but also has a deep understanding of your product and target markets to help guide your efforts.

Eventually, you’ll be looking for ways to transcend product and content localization. With a really solid localized product for Android, and a system of continuous localization to keep up with updates, you might think about reaching out to well-known bloggers or YouTube influencers in target locales to promote your app. This type of exposure goes a long way to help reach a sustainable level of revenue.

Keeping Up with Your Android Markets Around the World

Localization is a multifaceted, continuous process that will likely take place in diverse markets simultaneously. When considering how to implement localization in Android, and to stay on top of the challenges, look to localization experts who can work alongside your development experts.An expert partner, with a next generation management platform and staff of knowledgeable linguists, can go a long way to guaranteeing efficient and effective localization. An automated system of continuous localization can make life easier for your developers and product managers so they don’t have to turn away from their own priorities.

Bureau Works provides a broad range of localization services, including high-quality translations and CLI/API integration with any operating system. Our continuous localization services power the global expansion of a wide range of clients in many industries. Contact our team today to find out how we can help your company implement localization in Android.

Gabriel Fairman
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