How to approach app localisation

A beginner’s guide to making your app local and relevant in each export market

3 Translate your app

Users are more likely to engage with your app if it’s in their own language. The same is true of your Play Store Listing, Universal App Campaign ad text, and any in-app purchase.

Languages and dialects

What languages do the customers you’re targeting speak? Consider all of the variables. For instance, countries like Switzerland, Canada and South Africa are multilingual. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, and others have various dialects.

Market Finder will help pinpoint the most potentially profitable markets for your app.

It’s also worth checking:

  • Your app's installs, user feedback, and social media to find markets where there may be demand
  • Optimisation Tips in the Google Play Developer Console to see if there are countries where your app is already gaining popularity
  • Language selection page in the Google Play Developer Console, where you’ll discover:
    • the top languages and countries where apps like yours have been installed
    • the percentage of installs that come from users of those languages
    • further information to help inform your go-to-market plans for these countries

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Key elements to localise

  • Name and description in the Google Play Store listing
  • In-App Purchase (IAP) product names and descriptions
  • Universal App Campaign text (UAC)
  • Images, video and audio
  • Server-based content
Name and description in the Google Play Store listing

Translating these will help users find your app.

In-App Purchase (IAP) product names and descriptions

The pop-up that users see before making a purchase uses the information you have entered in the Google Play Developer Console. You can enter translations in the same place where you set up the products. For more information, see Administering In-App Billing

Universal app campaign (UAC)

Translating the UAC ads allows you to promote your Android app in other countries, and languages.

Images

Users will feel familiar and comfortable with images, symbols and colours that are a good cultural fit. Localise any embedded text too. Or, at least, ensure that the explanatory text for the screenshot is in the appropriate language.

Audio

If you have any sounds files that include speech, you should record new versions for each language.

Server-based content

If your app pulls in content from your server (e.g. a newspaper app), consider translating existing server-side content. Create a process for localising any new content at the time it is published.

Assuming you store all the text in your app in a strings.xml file, translate that file into your target language. Put the resulting files into your project. Then rebuild the Android Package Kit (APK) — the file format used to install software on the Android operating system.

There are two main ways to translate the strings.xml:

Use Google Play App Translation

This provides human app translation services directly into Developer Console and Android Studio. The translation price is calculated per word, so costs vary. The benefits to you, as a developer, include:

  • It’s a quick and simple way to order, receive and apply translations
  • It translates app strings, Play Store text, In-App Products and Universal App Campaign ads
  • It reuses any translations from previous orders, so you never pay for the same translation twice

To use Google Play App Translation, select Manage translations -> Purchase translations from the Store Listing page in the Google Play Developer Console.

Use a professional translation service

A professional translation service will consider several additional factors when They translating, such as the:

  • Target audience
  • Context in which the text strings will appear (surrounding UI, and available space)
  • Nuances specific to the country or the language
  • Brand-specific Style Guides & glossaries

Tip

Using machine translation — like Google Translate — alone may cause your app unwanted usability problems.