mobile application localization

What is Mobile App Localization?

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

The market for mobile apps is highly competitive. Organizations seek to expand the reach of their apps and retain users. They also try to increase conversion and sales. Mobile app localization is a key tool for them.

Mobile apps localization: What it is

The term “mobile app localization” refers to adapting a mobile app for app users in a target market other than the home country of the organization offering the app. The mobile app localization process involves adapting the UI (user interface), app content, features, app store listings, and in-app purchase products. This adaptation makes the app understandable, usable, and enjoyable for users in new markets.

Why localize mobile apps? The benefits of mobile app localization

The number of mobile app downloads is increasing rapidly, however, the app market is highly competitive. Organizations try to improve an app’s visibility. They want to attract and retain new users. App localization is important for an app’s success.

New users want app content in their native language. They want apps that respect their cultural differences, furthermore, the app should fit with the locale settings. App localization helps to provide localized versions of an app. That appeals to local users. This improved app downloads and user engagements.

What are the different types of mobile app localization?

There are two types of mobile app localization. These are as follows:

Minimum viable localization

Start-ups often undertake a minimum viable location. Such localization efforts focus on the important features and content of the app. The organization also localizes the app store metadata and app store descriptions.


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Full app localization

Enterprises or global brands undertake full app localization for their global audience. This includes the app UI, features, content, app descriptions, integrations, products for in-app purchases, etc. The organization tries to make the app useful and enjoyable for native speakers of different languages in the target countries.

How would you build a strategy for mobile app localization?

A strategy for localizing iOS and Android apps should cover the following:

  • Target markets and their cultural norms;
  • Stakeholder management;
  • Whether you will cater to the native language or multiple languages initially;
  • The choice between minimum viable localization and full localization;
  • Priorities for localization in the case of a minimum viable localization;
  • Budget;
  • The app localization team;
  • Managing resource files for localization;
  • Localization workflow;
  • Engaging translation service providers vs using translation management systems;
  • App store optimization;
  • Roadmap and schedule;
  • Collaboration among teams;
  • Localization testing;
  • Managing the KPIs and metrics to assess the success of the localized app;
  • Risk mitigation and issues management.

Mobile app localization process steps

Android and iOS app localization process steps are as follows:

1. App internationalization

App internationalization is the process that makes future mobile app localization processes easier. You should undertake app internationalization during app development. It makes the code flexible. The code can then display content appropriate to different locales, and it uses relevant target languages.

2. Define the app localization requirements

Determine your target markets. Identify the local languages that you want to target. Check the app analytics to decide priorities for localization. You might need to analyze app reviews and other data from app stores. Conduct competitor research.

3. Identify tools and service providers

You might want to use the services of professional translators. Alternatively, you might use translation management systems. You need to identify them for your target languages.

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4. Translate content and modify your app for target markets

Translate content in the target languages. Customize the app interface to make it suitable for target markets. Customize texts, images, videos, audios, numbers, date formats, currency, etc. Ensure that the modified content fits the app screen properly. Follow localization tips provided by experts.

5. Modify the app store content

Modify the app store content to suit the target market. You need to do this for prominent app stores like Google Play, Apple App Store, etc. Customize keywords, app screenshots, metadata, text, videos, app previews, etc.

6. App localization testing

App localization testing might include the following:

  • Smoke testing;
  • Beta testing.

Ensure that app developers and testers work closely together. Resolve all issues before the app launch.

Challenges in localizing mobile apps

You might face the following challenges in localizing iOS and Android apps:

  • Unexpected delays;
  • Cost overruns;
  • Quality issues found after the app launch;
  • Too much manual work;
  • App localization lags behind the app development process.

Plan comprehensively to avoid delays, cost overruns, and quality issues. Use appropriate tools like app localization platforms and translation management systems to reduce manual work.

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1. Which mobile apps are examples of successful app localization?

Evernote and Airbnb are two examples of apps that have successfully executed the mobile app localization process.

2. Are app localization and app translation the same?

App localization and app translation aren’t the same. The translation process focuses on translating the text into another language. App localization involves adapting your app comprehensively to the local culture and market. App localization includes translation.

3. What are some examples of cultural norms to consider when creating localized apps?

The backward peace sign is a common emoji in the US, and it signifies peace. Many in the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia find this emoji offensive though. While the fingers-crossed emoji signifies good luck in the USA, people in Vietnam consider it offensive.


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