According to Statista, there are now 2.04 million Android apps on the Google Play Store. They include everything from games, to education, to versions of e-commerce websites, to business, to social media, to personal management tools, to health and fitness, and so on. The now very common phrase, “There’s an app for that” is actually quite true.
Those developers who want to monetize their apps by gaining new and larger audiences now realize the importance of getting those apps translated into multiple languages for a global reach.
Exactly how is this accomplished? Actually, there are three ways.
- Developers can turn the translation and localization over to a professional translation service that has expertise in this niche, specifying the target languages for translation. The benefit here is that, once an expert has worked on your app, you can always go back for additional translations with a company already familiar with your app.
- Developers can use one of many automated translation tools, a few of which we will speak to shortly.
- Developers can use a combination of automated tools and professional translation/localization services, something I highly recommend, especially for localization services. The right services have natives of the target languages who can ensure that the app is “culturally” correct and has nothing that might be deemed offensive to consumers of the target language. Check out a few articles about localization on TranslateHub and you will understand how critical localization is to success with a foreign audience.
A Look at a Few Automated Translation Tools
There are dozens of automated translation tools from which to choose, but here are four of the most popular and most used for Android apps. Let’s unpack what they have to offer.
1. Google Translate
“Tap to translate.” This is a newer (2016) function of Google Translate which works within every Android app. A translation icon will pop up and is activated when a user selects another language. So, a developer needs to do very little to have that app translated.
Now, is Google Translate a perfect translation/localization platform? No. While it is getting much better, there is still much that is “lost” in its translation functions. But it does provide a basic translation from which professional human translators and localizers can begin their work.
Localise is not a translation platform per se. But it is a tool that is especially helpful if a developer is looking for something unusual or rare, such as a Swiss German translation. Developers can bring in translators, editors, proofreaders, coding colleagues, and designers who can all work together to ensure that translation and localization features are perfectly appointed.
3. Android Studio
This is a tool developed by Google specifically for Android apps. It is an app itself which a developer must download in order to use. Once a project is created, developers can use it to simply drag their widgets into the appropriate workspaces. The beauty of Android Studio is this: a developer keeps his original code and then translates the text within it (or has an expert translator do it), and he doesn’t have to change any of the original formats. No extra code must be added for the selection of languages. The drawback? It comes at a cost, so developers must be mindful of their budget parameters.
4. Language Navi
Here is another tool that many developers really like. Text to be translated can be accomplished in the app’s interface. That interface provides for both a source and target languages. One big benefit is that translation is fast. It will also work with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and many other platforms.
Here is a newer translation platform, and if it delivers all that the developer promises, stands to become another favorite. It utilizes a combination of automation and a team of human translators. All the developer has to do is choose his languages, upload his strings, and the platform and team handle the rest. Because it is cloud-based, users pay as they go and only for what they want – comparatively budget-friendly. Developers who have used it so far give it high ratings.
The Struggle Has Been Real
Over the years, developers have struggled with translation and localization of their apps – uploading strings of code, translating the text, getting those translations validated and localized by experts, getting the strings put back into the app, and then publishing the translated app as a standalone version. A new version had to be published each time an additional target language was chosen.
Fortunately, technology evolved, as it always does, and Android app translation became much easier, especially with new Google initiatives and other tools, which continue to increase n number.
But app developers must proceed with some caution. Automated translations are far from perfect, and using a combination of automation and human translators, for the time being, is still the best way to go.
Michael is a passionate writer who has expertise in a variety of fields – from relationships and motivation theories to technology and education. He cares about what he writes and has a great eye for details. His hobbies include programming and reading.