Mobile Apps Localization, Irish Style, Apple Style

I always enjoy Lucy Kellaway’s articles in the Financial Times. She’s a smart writer, with a quick, sharp sense of irreverent humor combined with common sense,  making the coverage of the world of business eminently readable.  Her recent “Words to describe the glory of Apple” (podcast version for the registration-averse reader) addressed the issue of language in business, focusing on the style used by Apple in its App Store Review Guidelines (PDF version), aimed at developers of mobile applications.

These guidelines are insightful in themselves (as indeed are Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for the iPhone) for what they say about language quality. They place the emphasis on usability rather than professional linguistic quality, adherence to official terminology glossaries, style guidelines, and the rest. Language quality in its own right is not a  criterion for app acceptance. The market – the user – ultimately decides.  As far as I know, localized Apple apps are subject to an in-country review instead of a US one, but it doesn’t seem that professional linguistic acceptance checks for style and terminology come into play for those versions either.

This is important for the vast majority of mobile application developers, be they for Apple, Android or other platforms. Contrary to what you might hear, you simply do not need to engage with professional linguists and expensive, complicated, slow translation processes that center around complicated language quality assistance to get your localized app to market. What app developers do need is the means to quickly and easily connect with translators who are talented, motivated,  interested, mobile app savvy and who can use tools to turn around an effective translation that can get that app to the market place or app store as quickly as possible for international users.

Mobile app developers can look to the Irish technology company Tethras (offices in Dublin, Ireland and Silicon Valley) for such a service. This is a smart, cloud-based solution for global mobile app developers to get their development efforts to the international market easily. Sparkle Apps have already used Tethras for translating their Jigsaw Box iPad app and report that doing so clearly showed a spike in global sales, confirming other findings.

Remember that most app development isn’t a large-scale effort, undertaken by large teams in huge enterprises, but instead by interested, motivated entrepreneurs working remotely, often working alone. They have no clue about the difference between “localization”, “translation”, “transcreation” or the rest of the traditional GILT industry mechanics. And why should they? Who needs a language service provider to charge you for the creation of localized terms for “fart” anyway?

Watch out for more about Tethras and Irish mobile apps localization in a forthcoming article in Multilingual.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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