Translate and localise your app

Translate and localise your app

1 Overview

The challenge

Translating your app into multiple languages will maximise the number of people who can install, use, and recommend it. Taking your app local is usually most successful when you go local with your support, advertising and promotion too. Your challenge is to consider how you can support users in their local language to create a seamlessly localised experience.

Your aim

To provide a localised experience for your users around the world by translating your app, store listing, and other resources.

How to go about it

Solicit translations from your users, find a translation agency yourself, or use the app translation service from the Google Play Console or Android Studio to request a reliable and efficient translation. The Google Play service provides localisation technologies to get content available in multiple markets and languages. These include third party developers on Android and Chrome for apps and games, Google advertisers for ad campaigns, and YouTube creators for video captions among others. Google Play provides professional, human app translation services integrated directly into the Play Developer Console and Android Studio. This guide discusses how to localise and translate your app and how the Google Play Developer Console can help as you prepare to enter a new market.

2 Translation services options

Localisation involves tasks throughout your app development cycle, and planning is essential. Translation is one of the final steps in localisation. You’ll need to add translations for your app's store listing page, APK files, in-app products, or Google Ads campaigns.

How to translate your app

Assuming all the text in your app is stored in a strings.xml file, you just need to translate that file into one or more languages. Then you can put the resulting files into your project, before rebuilding the APK. The links above explain where to put the translated files.

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

1. Use Google Play App Translation service

For your convenience, Google Play provides human app translation services integrated directly into Developer Console and Android Studio.

2. Do it yourself

If you or your colleagues know the target languages, you can translate everything yourself using any text editor, or with the Android Studio Translation Editor

3. Use a third party translation service

You can use a translation service offered by one of many translation companies available online. For example:

  • Gengo: translation platform using professional translators.
  • Transifex: crowdsourcing platform, to allow your app's users to contribute translations.
  • Smartling: educational resources and integrated translation service with professional translators

Tip

To successfully reach an international audience, you may also want to translate your app’s Play Store Listing (title and description), Universal App campaign ad, and in-app purchase products.

Google’s app translation service

Translating your app's store description, user interface text, Universal App campaign ads and in-app purchase products into multiple languages will maximise the number of people who can install, use and recommend it.

The benefits of the service to you as a developer include:

  • Quick and simple way to order, receive and apply translations, without leaving the Developer Console; you can translate your app strings, Play Store text, In-App Products and Universal App campaign ads, all in one go;
  • Google Wallet integration for payments
  • Carefully selected Localisation Service Providers and their translators provide translation and review for each text string
  • Translations from your previous orders (if any) are reused, so you never pay for the same translation twice.

Using the App Translation Service, translating a typical app and store description into one language may cost around USD50. Note that the translation price is calculated on a per-word basis, so your actual cost depends on the amount of text in your app and store description. Prices may also vary by language pairs and the vendor you select. A typical translation order is completed within 4-5 business days, but the completion time depends on many factors.

3 How your app is localised

Which parts of my app should I localise?

Start by localising all of the text:

  • UI text and other text strings within the app:

These are most likely stored in strings.xml, and are included in the app download to users’ devices.

  • In-App Purchase (IAP) product names and descriptions:

The popup that users see before making a purchases 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.

  • Name and Description in the Google Play store listing:

Translating these will help users find your app.

  • Universal App campaign:

Translating the ads allows you to promote your Android app in other countries, regions and languages, across Google Search, Play, YouTube and other apps on the Display Network.

  • For some apps, you may also need to localise:

    • Images and Videos: Would these be well understood by people from different countries? Might they be offensive to some of your target users? Do they included any embedded text? If so, you may want to create new versions of these and include them with your app. Localised versions of images may be placed in res/drawable-XX.
    • Audio: Record new versions of any sound files which include speech, particularly if understanding that speech is critical to use the app.
    • Server-based content: If your app pulls in content from your server (e.g. a newspaper app) then localising the UI will help with navigation, but the user may still not find the app useful. Consider translating existing server-side content, and creating a process for localising any new content at the time it is published.

Recommended language bundles

When you order a translation in the Play Developer Console, the language selection page shows:

  • The top languages and countries where apps have been installed, broken down to the level of your app’s category;
  • The percentage of installs that come from users of those languages;
  • Further information to help inform your go-to-market plans for these countries.

Image alt text

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

What do translators need for quick turnaround, high quality work?

Using professional, human translations for your app and Store Listing makes your app easier to discover and improves user engagement. Beyond the source language texts and the list of target languages, translators find it helpful to have context about the text they are translating.

When placing an order with a translation company, consider providing:

  • Screenshots of your app (showing where the text strings appear);
  • A brief comment and length limit for each of the UI strings;
  • A description of your target audience.

Can I just use Google Translate to translate my app?

Google Translate uses machine translation, which can provide good results for common topics. UI messages tend to be short and context-specific, so using machine translation alone (i.e. without review by a fluent speaker of the target language) may cause usability problems.

Consider using a human translation service for your app's UI and Store Listing. Professional translators consider several factors when translating, including the target audience, the context in which the text strings will appear (surrounding UI, and available space), and the nuances specific to the country or the language. Your app will be much more accessible to users in your market if the lexicon is culturally relevant and it has a local feel.

4 Google Play Developer Console translations

Developers can access a professional, human translation service directly in the Google Play Developer Console. This service offers translations for store title and descriptions, APKs, Universal App campaign ads and in-app purchases. Note that this is a paid service, delivered by third party localisation service providers.

To access the App Translation Service:

  1. Go to the Google Play Developer Console, and select the app you want to translate.
  2. Select Store Listing on the right.
  3. Click the Manage translations dropdown, and select Purchase translations.
  4. In the App Translation popup, click New Translation.
  5. The popup will guide through the necessary steps to submit your translation order.

Alternatively, you can start the App Translation Service under the APK section of the Developer Console, by clicking on the Start or check progress button on the bottom of the page.

Add translations for your store listing

If a user's language preference matches the translation languages you've added, they'll see your app's translated version. You can also add localised graphic assets for your store listing pages. If you add text translations without localised graphic assets, your app's graphic assets will be shown from the default language.

Using our App Translation Service, you can buy translation services from a professional third-party vendor. You'll work directly with the vendor to manage translations and address any support issues. Keep in mind translations aren't available for all source and target language combinations.

If you don't add or purchase translations

If users visit your app's store listing on Google Play in a language that you haven't translated, they can choose to view an automated translation of your app's page. Near the top of the page, there will be a notification that explains the translation has been done automatically, along with an option to view the store listing in its default language instead.

Note: Automated translations aren't available in Armenian, Raeto-romance, Tagalog and Zulu.

Purchase and apply other app translations

Using the App Translation Service, you can purchase professional translations of your APK strings, in-app items, or Google Ads campaigns. You'll work directly with the vendor to manage translations and address any support issues.

As above, keep in mind translations aren't available for all source and target language combinations.

Updated translations

If you're submitting a translation request for an app with previous translations, keep in mind:

  • You should translate any text that's been updated since the previous release. You don’t need to submit previously translated strings.
  • When you place an order, we compare the text with your previous orders. Any existing text will be excluded from the order so you only pay for the new text.
  • If you'd like to submit all text for translation (including previously translated strings), uncheck the box next to "Reuse translated strings."