Managing mobile app localization requires a new approach, one that bypasses the commonly occurring issues that most businesses run into, like breaking the user experience and limiting adoption in the region they’re targeting.
An iterative approach is the key to app localization, because it allows leaders to work out the bugs and protect their experience by developing, testing, and redeveloping the app. Testing and quality assurance will help you overcome the many challenges unique to mobile app localization.
Challenges in Mobile App Localization
Mobile apps have fewer words than other forms of media, so you may assume that the translation will be more straightforward. However, fewer words mean you have to get the point across with less, meaning every single piece of content has a much more significant impact. Aside from that, you’ll also need to consider:
- Less user guidance: If someone is confused on a webpage, they can typically mouse over certain sections and gain an explanation or context on where that button will take them. The mobile app experience doesn’t provide the same conveniences. Consumers have to rely on what’s in front of them with no further information.
- **Language options: **We once had a client translate an entire app to Swiss German, intending to offer it in the AppStore–but the AppStore doesn’t support Swiss German. Before choosing a language to target, you need to verify support on both iOS and Android platforms and their stores–the AppStore and Google Play. You must consider these platforms as they are the two primary app stores consumers use.
- Testing resources: Aside from offering different language support, the platforms also offer disparate testing solutions. Android apps can be built on emulators to test out the results of product localization. Meanwhile, the iOS system tends to be very closed and will require actual testing on a device.
- Context: Context matters a lot when it comes to mobile apps. Consider a word like “recharge.” It could refer to the device itself, an action of a character, or an in-game account. The only way to ensure the proper translation is to understand the context.
- File engineering: Engineering plays a central role in mobile app localization, which makes testing essential. Certain characters can be mistaken for code and, as a result, break an app. Sentence dilation is another consideration. Most languages use up more characters to say the same thing an English sentence does. That bears consideration when setting character dilation percentage thresholds.
- Frequent updates: Mobile apps are updated regularly to fix bugs, add new features, and expand the experience. A continuous localization program is necessary to support these constant updates and ensure all languages are consistent.
These platforms are very competitive–there are 2.7 million apps in Google Play and 1.82 million available on the AppStore. However, by overcoming translation challenges, it’s possible to increase the visibility of an app by offering it outside of English-speaking audiences. This requires taking an iterative, quality assurance (QA)-focused approach.
Iterations and QA in the Mobile App Translation Process
When it comes to web and app localization, immersion and open QA are as important as the translation itself. App immersion means that the linguists spend time with the app to know its features and abilities. Through this, they gain contextual insight that will aid in the translation process. The use of comments within the code can also help them understand what characters are language markers and which ones support the experiences.
Parsing the code and its variables, tags, and comments is necessary to monitor the experience and ensure it stays intact as it changes from translation to app. Testing may occur on an emulator or an actual device, but either way, it helps engineers discover issues that could filter through the app and turn into significant problems.
The key to mobile app localization is sound engineering. The translation is vital, but so is maintaining the user experience. Testing and QA should take a central role in your process so you can develop an intact app that pleases consumers.