AppleInsider is reporting that Apple has contacted app developers via its iTunes Connect program to ask them to localize their apps in multiple languages and to market that their apps and books are localized.

In the letter to iTunes Connect members, Apple noted that the App Store and Mac App Store are available in 155 countries with support for 40 languages, saying that "it has never been more important to localize your app and marketing material."

Apple also rolled out a Chinese Support Communities forum, which would give speakers of various Chinese languages the opportunity to help out fellow Apple users in their native tongues.

itunesconnectletter
The move signals how important China has grown to Apple in the past year, as during a quarterly results call in January Apple revealed that revenues in China were up 67 percent. iPhone saw its most significant growth come in the country as well, up more than 100 percent year-over-year.

Apple has recently had to deal with controversy in China over criticism about its iPhone warranty policies in the country. In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an open letter and Apple Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams traveled to China to deal with the public relations fallout.

Top Rated Comments

Snowshiro Avatar
126 months ago
Pretty much agree with a lot of the sentiment here, but one important thing to add, is that Apple woefully underestimates what "localization" actually means.

Many countries, in particular Asia, often have radically different cultural practices and customs to the west. Localization can often mean understanding the culture itself and adjusting your output accordingly. A famous example would be games removing all imagery of bones, or skeletons as Blizzard had to painstakingly do when they launched World of Warcraft in China. No mean feat in a game where skulls are liberally sprinkled throughout the entire gaming environment.

I've worked in Japan as a software developer for over 10 years and remember once emailing a foreign developer of a school timetabling application (actually it was PC desktop software rather than an app) to tell them that they needed to add an option to add classes on a Saturday, because a large percentage of Japanese schools are open 6 days a week.

Then you have the problem of support. If you offer an app in Chinese, people are going to assume that they can email you in Chinese. Do you want to just ignore communications that come in? Should you answer emails sent in English, but provide a lower level of support to some customers simply because they don't speak the same language as you?

Apple just sending out "go and translate your apps" emails helps no one really. It just makes them seem out of touch with the limited resources that small developers have.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dwhittington Avatar
126 months ago
Aybabtu

Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ScottishCaptain Avatar
126 months ago
That's nice.

So who is going to pay for the translators to translate my stuff into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, and Arabic "just to start"?

Is it even worth it? I get sales from China and Japan all the time. A few months ago a Japanese blog/website "featured" my app by writing a nice review out of nowhere, which followed up by a few thousand sales that very same day. Not a single person asked about translations, but I did get several well written emails in english (more well written then most emails I get from english speaking folks, fancy that) asking about future features and tweaks.

It would be nice if Apple offered some kind of statistics on what I can expect in return for localizing, since doing so is neither straight forward nor cost free for me as a developer. It costs me enough of my own time to produce an english only application. I can't imagine trying to juggle 20 different languages and keeping those localization files up to date across application updates with UI tweaks.

-SC
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
komodrone Avatar
126 months ago
no worries, I'll spend the rest of my life learning these languages.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Superhai Avatar
126 months ago
I can't see that Apple require you to translate your app, only suggesting it to increase your market. Apple is just showing what resources they make available, and it is of course also in their interest to see popular apps in other languages.

So, I see many asking who should pay for the translation? Of course the one making the money out of it, meaning the developer (team). If you have an app people are willing to pay for, then investing in a translation will in most cases pay off. If not then either your app is lousy (sorry to say it) and shouldn't be out anyway or you provide it for free (no ads) and in that case rather use your users to help you. If you can get 1000 more customers and getting 70 cents for each your effort has already paid off.

It is usually wise to prepare the app for localizing even if you think you will not do an actual translation and some ideas is try to use figures and pictograms instead of written text wherever it is possible (there are some caveats here however, like people being offended or not understanding certain images - I would not worry much about that however). Try to use certain imperatives or single words instead of long sentences when applicable.

When actually translating, use preferrably professionals or natives in the language. Machine translations require some profience in the language, especially with the different subtleties, negatives and similar words with entirely different meaning. Usually it is an idea to use some translation company in the country or area you target. Except for Japan and some western-european countries they are usually cheaper.

If you are developing free apps or you can't afford the risk of translating (certain speciality apps) reach out to your audience for help. Especially free no-ad apps will easily fins someone. For certain translators or linguists who just finished education or are un-employed, it is something they can put on their CV and will have benefitted even when you did not have to pay a dime.

So do people know english? Most people don't. Many have some basic understanding of simple words, but anything more complicated and they will give in. Even those who knows will know people who don't, and if they are to help them they will suggest to them an app in a language they know. Also for me I use iPhone in my native language and an app who are properly translated will be part of the same experience. However this is more noticably on the Mac or a PC. On the mobile devices the apps are rarely integrated, but especially hooks from other apps do look akward when you have two different languages. So you want to avis these apps.

Which language to translate? I suggest starting with one of the big ones first, then you will experience the pitfalls and if it works for you. Chinese covers most of China of course, Taiwan and also many Southeast-asians (however they will most likely also know some english) Russian is known by Russia and former Soviet Union countries, Spanish and Portuguese covers Latin-America and Spain and Portugal as well as some parts of the Caribbean, Arabic in the middle-east as well as french in certain countries. All these areas have rarher poor English knowledge. South-asia is another bag however and those who are literate knows written english fairly well and all the languages there are written in different scripts as well, so I would put them lower on the list.

When you find a translation company try to make some agreement for updates as well, you want them translated also. If you are translating, do it properly in all aspects of the apps. Poor and lacking translations may end up counter-productive.

Last I wish Apple would make some provisions for bi-/multilinguals as it is a pain to write English with a foreign auto-correct - which also pollutes that one.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
flottenheimer Avatar
126 months ago
That's nice.

So who is going to pay for the translators to translate my stuff into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, and Arabic "just to start"?

Is it even worth it? I get sales from China and Japan all the time. A few months ago a Japanese blog/website "featured" my app by writing a nice review out of nowhere, which followed up by a few thousand sales that very same day. Not a single person asked about translations, but I did get several well written emails in english (more well written then most emails I get from english speaking folks, fancy that) asking about future features and tweaks.

It would be nice if Apple offered some kind of statistics on what I can expect in return for localizing, since doing so is neither straight forward nor cost free for me as a developer. It costs me enough of my own time to produce an english only application. I can't imagine trying to juggle 20 different languages and keeping those localization files up to date across application updates with UI tweaks.

-SC
Well, for what it is worth I've just been on a 16 day vacation in Tokyo and I can assure you that at least 90% don't speak english at all. They will get OK, yes, no and Coca-Cola. But that's all.
And oh, around half — that's 50% : ) — were using an iPhone.

Just ask your App users for some help. I just did a Danish translation of Little Things Forever for free, because I wanted my kids to be able to play it. I'm sure there are a lot of people willing to help out.

PS: Sad to see that Danish is not on Apples 'important languages' list. It's a small country, but iPhones and children with iPhones are everywhere.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Black Friday Deals 2022 Green

All the Apple Black Friday Deals You Can Still Get

Friday November 25, 2022 4:40 am PST by
Although Black Friday is now technically over, many Apple products are still seeing major discounts through the weekend as we head into Cyber Monday. In this article, you'll find every Apple device with a notable Black Friday sale that's still available. We'll be updating as prices change and new deals arrive, so be sure to keep an eye out if you don't see the sale you're looking for yet. Note:...
iphone 14 pro hands snowflakes 1

Best Cyber Monday iPhone Deals Available Today

Wednesday November 23, 2022 1:55 pm PST by
Cellular carriers have always offered big savings on the newest iPhone models during the holidays, and Cyber Monday is no different. We're tracking notable offers on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro devices from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For even more savings, keep an eye on older models like the iPhone 13. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
maxresdefault

Nothing Phone 1 Displays AirPods Battery Level After Latest OS Update

Friday November 25, 2022 3:33 am PST by
Nothing Phone 1 users today began receiving the Nothing OS 1.1.7 update, which adds support for displaying the battery percentage of connected AirPods, amongst other improvements and bug fixes. If you own a Nothing Phone 1, you can check for the OTA update by going to Settings -> System -> System updates. Bear in mind that as support for displaying AirPods battery level is still an...
ipad holiday bulbs

Best Cyber Monday iPad Deals Available Today

Thursday November 24, 2022 12:25 pm PST by
Cyber Monday deals have been in full swing since Black Friday deals ended, and we're seeing solid discounts on Apple devices. We're highlighting the best sales for all of Apple's product lines, and in this article you'll find the best Cyber Monday sales on iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad mini. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make ...
airpods pro 2

Apple Engineer Addresses Lack of Lossless Support on New AirPods Pro

Friday November 25, 2022 2:58 am PST by
An Apple engineer has addressed the lack of lossless audio support in the second-generation AirPods Pro in a new interview. Current Bluetooth technology in the AirPods lineup means that Apple's audio products do not support Apple Music Lossless audio. Apple has previously hinted that it may develop its own codec and connectivity standard that builds on AirPlay and supports higher quality...
Cyber Monday Deals Feature 2022

Best Cyber Monday Apple Deals Still Available for AirPods, Apple TV, iPad, and More

Monday November 28, 2022 5:24 am PST by
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping rush is drawing to a close, but there are still some good deals to be had out there. For Apple products, many of the deals you've seen since last week are still available, though some have expired. So for anyone who missed out on Black Friday deals, there's still an opportunity to get some of the year's best prices on many Apple devices. Note: ...
Apple Watch Ultra Oceanic Plus App

Apple Announces Oceanic+ App Now Available for Apple Watch Ultra

Monday November 28, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Apple today announced that the Oceanic+ app is available for the Apple Watch Ultra starting today. Designed by Huish Outdoors in collaboration with Apple, the app serves as a dive computer for recreational scuba diving at depths up to 40 meters/130 feet. Apple already offers a basic Depth app on the Apple Watch Ultra for viewing your current depth, maximum depth reached, water temperature,...
Three Biggest iPhone SE 4 Questions Feature

Three Biggest Questions About the iPhone SE 4

Saturday November 26, 2022 12:00 am PST by
While we already have some clear indications about what to expect from the fourth-generation iPhone SE, there are three major questions looming over the device at the current time. Chinese site MyDrivers and and leaker Jon Prosser believe that the iPhone SE is set to move to an iPhone XR-like design in its next incarnation, which would involve eliminating the Home button and adding a "notch" ...