Mobile developers now have increased resources at their disposal for expanding into international markets, as Google has announced that its App Translation Service is now available to all Android developers. The service allows developers to purchase professional translations through the Google Play Developer Console, making it easy to launch in multiple countries.
The company first previewed the service in May at Google I/O, and it announced the wider release in a Nov. 11 blog post, noting that more than 1.5 million Android phones and tablets are activated each day around the world. For around $75 for a small app and $150 for a large one, according to IDG News Service, developers can have all the text in their app translated by a professional.
“This is part of a toolbox of localization features you can (and should!) take advantage of as you distribute your app around the world through Google Play,” Google Play’s Ellie Powers wrote.
Google also shared the success stories of several app developers using the tool in its pilot program. Developers of the game Zombie Ragdoll were able to launch the app simultaneously in 20 languages in August, for instance. They ultimately found that 80 percent of their installs came from non-English-language users. Similarly, dating app SayHiChat saw 120 percent growth in localized markets after expanding into 13 new languages, as well as improved user reviews from switching to a professionally translated user interface.
What developers should know
While iOS remains the top priority for most mobile developers in the United States, improved tools for taking apps abroad could tip the scales in Android’s favor. Worldwide, Android’s market share is now at 81 percent, according to quarterly figures from IDC. With the availability of so many international consumers, developers can reap significant rewards from the relatively low-cost translation service. Google recommended pinpointing opportunities for growth by reviewing install statistics for the app and seeing if there are locations with high usage rates where the app hasn’t yet been localized.
To use the App Translation Service, however, developers need to ensure their code is in order. In its localization checklist, Google recommends developers take the time to make their strings.xml file “well organized, well commented, and accurate.” As developers look to make their code as clear as possible, they can benefit from code refactoring tools and static analysis software that help eliminate unnecessary features. Once these criteria are met, teams can then upload their strings to Google’s service, which will connect them with a translator and enable them to communicate with the translator directly. Ideally this should be done early in the development cycle to provide proper lead time. After translated strings are returned, developers should test the localized app before releasing it.
With these changes, developers have access to enormous new markets. Onlookers can inevitably expect interesting shifts in the mobile space as App Translation Services continues to make Android more enticing to developers.
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