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How to Localize Your iOS App and Reach a Global Audience?

Get up to 10x growth in organic traffic for your app

Most mobile apps and games, big and small, support multiple languages, as it is simply counter-productive to spend a lot of time and resources on app development and then reduce the audience to speakers of just one language.

Usually, this one language is English, but despite its global presence, experience has shown that releasing your iOS app in just English can significantly cut into your potential downloads and, consequently, revenue.

Alconost clients’ experience shows that audience volume can grow 10-fold after localizing their app into the most-used languages. Supporting multiple languages is essential for the organic growth of downloads and conversions into paying users.

For example, check out how the number of organic installs for Narcade’s mobile apps grew in Korea after translating their games into Korean.CJW4x7gXYEZvuy43udC6mKU1ekG3-2022-11-01T06_30_02

More and more iOS developers are realizing that covering a wide range of languages is one of the keys to growth in terms of both downloads and revenue. The team of photo editing app RetouchMe, for example, started off with just a few languages, but after realizing how many more international users they could reach with localization, they expanded their range of languages to 35, and that localization into all 35 languages paid off.

The chart below shows how their App Store ranking changed after localizing the app and its App Store page (for Brazil, Italy, and Turkey). The team generously shared more screenshots with stats in this case study.

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How do you choose the right languages for localizing your game? See what non-English speaking markets you’re getting downloads from. There is a good chance that localizing your app properly will boost your downloads in those markets.

Some companies prefer to start with ASO localization (translating the app store description, the title and subtitle, and the copy of the screenshot) to see how localization will influence conversions on the App Store. After seeing the results, they will then decide to localize the whole app.

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Informed Decision for iOS Localization: The Pros and Cons of the Popular Options

How can your team approach iOS localization? First off, make sure you’ve prepared your game for localization. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the key preparation steps.

But how do you tackle localization as a process? Let’s take a look at the available options and discuss their advantages and drawbacks.

Machine Translation

Though we generally don’t recommend machine translation for customer-facing content, sometimes companies turn to this solution to cut down on costs. It may work for very simple casual games when the key purpose is to make the UI understandable for gamers.

We should mention that just using the free Google Translate might not do the trick, and is likely to set you up for translation failures. The best practice is to use machine translation APIs, such as Google API and DeepL API. But you can expect good enough quality only if you have a large translation memory for your game content to train the machine translation engine properly.

Another way to use machine translation and get an adequate translation is PEMT: Post-editing machine translation, where professional native-speaking translators edit your machine-translated content. However, the chances are that translators will deem the quality of this translation too low, and will charge their full rate.

Here is a vivid example from one of our clients, the gaming company Full HP, who managed to combine machine and professional translation for their games. The client approached Alconost with English-to-Korean and English-to-Japanese translations. These game texts were machine-translated, after which the Full HP team ordered post-editing from Alconost for this content.

The content contained dialogues, and unfortunately, machine translation failed to adapt the dialogues into Korean. As a result of the poor quality, the entire translation had to be done from scratch, and the client had to order the English-to-Korean translation with the standard translation workflow. The Full HP team went with this suggestion and received high-quality localization and content gamers.

As a result, the team was able to strike a balance between using third-party machine translation for more generic and simple content while localizing more context-heavy texts with Nitro, Alconost’s human translation platform. This approachhelped increase the in-app conversion rate by 25%.

Community Translation and Freelance Translators

This is another tempting option for saving money on localization. If you can boast a large and active community, you can go for this option. Your gamers know your game inside and out, so there shouldn’t be too many contextual mistakes. The main drawbacks of this approach are translation inconsistency and the amount of time it takes, as gaming enthusiasts are not professionals and are working on the translation in their free time.

On the one hand, freelance translators are a better option; they are usually professional translators, and you can expect them to stick to the deadlines. However, we’ve noticed that many of our clients turned to Alconost because they found managing freelance translators too cumbersome and time-consuming. Here is what the Narcade team has to say about it:

“Before Alconost and Nitro, we worked with freelance translators via a crowdsourcing platform. Naturally, the process took more time and was more complex (and small wonder, what with contacting each translator separately for each language pair!). In addition, we weren’t sure the translations were accurate.

With Nitro, it’s an easy matter for us to send the text for translation into multiple languages simultaneously: we just copy the text, specify the languages needed, and receive our translated texts within 24 hours!” 

Human Translation Platform Nitro: The Best of Both Worlds

Here is why Nitro can be a good fit for localizing your iOS game

Alconost has developed its own translation platform, Nitro, which combines professional native-speaking translators and the convenience of a self-service platform saving time for the client. The good news is that translations through Nitro are quite affordable.

Nitro is a human translation platform that supports over 70 translation languages and boasts a fast turnaround. All translations are carried out by professional translators, who have been working with Alconost long-term.

The self-service mode allows clients to place translation orders independently, without reaching out to Alconost’s localization managers. It is also a convenient way to translate app store descriptions, text on screenshots, and frequent updates, as there is no minimum order.

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Here is why Nitro can be a good fit for localizing your iOS game:

  • Easy order placement. When you add content for translation and tick off the required languages, you’ll get an automatically-calculated quote right away;
  • Support for .strings. Download your .strings file and receive the translation in the same format;
  • Context information. Attach screenshots, choose the tone of voice, and leave notes for translators to provide context. The context within the .strings file will also be visible to translators;
  • API. You can use Nitro API to cut down on the work needed from your side, like manually uploading and downloading the localized content, and enjoy quality localization without extra effort;
  • A translation memory and discounts for repetitions. Nitro stores all your previous translations in the translation memory, allowing them to be reused when an identical segment pops up. So, for a 100% phrase match, we will discount the translation of the repeated phrase by 70%;
  • Character limit restriction (optional). App Store copy or UI buttons usually have a character limit restriction, and on Nitro, you can set this restriction and ensure the translations fit the allocated space.

Check out what the Nitro platform looks like! Try adding your content, play around with choosing languages, and you’ll get an instant quote—all without even creating an account.

If you have questions or any issues, you get in touch with Nitro’s support team in the live chat and get a reply within 10-15 minutes. Just like Nitro’s turnaround time, it is fast. For questions to the translators, you can send your order for revision on Nitro and add your question. You’ll receive a reply directly from the translator.

This human translation platform is especially convenient for translating smaller games, updates, and marketing content. Large projects requiring continuous localization, Mobile SDK integration, support for a wide range of file formats, and other adjustments are better handled on cloud-based localization platforms. Such projects are managed by a PM who helps set up a seamless localization process.

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Summary

iOS localization has become a must in the highly competitive app market. Experienced publishers and app development companies recommend localizing both your app store page (including screenshots localization) and the app itself and making sure the translation considers all contexts.

While you do have a choice between machine and human translation, it’s best to go for the latter to avoid translation failures. For each mobile app or game, you’ll need to strike a balance between the risks and costs.

It’s important to point out that if you’ve gone with a low-quality, high-risk solution, your conclusions about inefficient localization results in a certain language might be incorrect, simply because you cannot be sure what put off your users; it could very well be the poor quality of localization. Even one sloppily translated button may result in poor conversion rates and hurt monetization. So it’s essential to choose a quality solution.

If your iOS app is smaller and does not have a lot of content for translation, it is best to go with the easier and more affordable option of the self-serve human translation platform. This will allow you to skip the step of sending the files to a localization agency just to get a quote and further back and forth. This option is also the best fit for fast and professional translations for app store descriptions, screenshots copy, and in-app updates.

For larger projects, however, you may prefer more advanced localization platforms as they have more customization options.

Do you need to localize your mobile game?

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