The best ways for app developers to think global but act local
There’s app localization, and then there’s what Runkeeper said it was doing.
According to a recent post on the company’s blog, the popular fitness app wanted to offer “region-by region” localization so that the various audio cues it offered runners could be tailored to U.S. cities. In its hometown of Boston, for example, Runkeeper would be pronounced “Runkeepah.”
|The maker of the avatar app Face My Phone, Glue Applications, used TraductoPro for localization.|
Astute users probably noticed the Runkeeper announcement was posted on April Fool’s Day, but to most developers, the business opportunities provided by localizing an app’s content to a specific country or language is no joke. According to a report released last fall from BI Intelligence, localization can lead to more than 100 percent increases in downloads and 25 percent increases in revenue. That’s undoubtedly why so many firms are jumping into the business of streamlining the process of localization, which may scare off indie developers who worry about cost and resource constraints.
“Developers need to think about being in every market possible, because they have no idea where your app will take off,” said Jules Ngambo, founder of New York-based Traducto, which offers app localization tools. “There are those who just don’t think about it until the last minute, until they get to the point where they have a great app and then need to monetize it.”
Localization normally involves extracting “strings” from their code which must be translated. Then they need to submit their apps through iTunes Connect (if they’re working in iOS) and repeat this process for each new language or region they support. TraductoPro 1.2 allows them to upload metadata, keywords, app store subscriptions and other information once and then order translations on an as-needed basis, then export the results automatically to iTunes.
“The pain point varies immensely. There are some customers with just a few hundred strings. For the first time localizer, it could involve hours of reading the documentation to do it manually,” Ngambo said. “Then you need to run some kind of script to extract strings from your code. Before you even do that, you need to have made them localizable by wrapping it with a localization macro. The majority of people who don’t think about it end up with hundreds of strings, sometimes thousands, and what do you do at that point?”