App Localization or App Translation? What’s the Difference and Does it Really Matter?

So, what is localization, and how is it different from translation?

Let’s start with the more obvious translation and explain what that is. Translation is the act of taking a word, or phrase from one language and rendering it into another language. Translation is simply a process for converting a concept from one language into another. Most people get this, there is no great mystery. Considerable skill, but no black magic.

Localization on the other hand, has been portrayed as a complex, knowledge-intensive process requiring the essential guidance of linguistic experts and silver-tongued consultants. A process where you will be told that you must recode your app because it is not internationalized, and really you should have hired a consultant from the get go, tut tut.

Don’t buy this! At its simplest, localization is ‘the making of something local’.

Localization and translation are not the same thing – localization will include the changing of other attributes of the software to make it more locally acceptable. Things like time and date formats, specific meanings of colors, national holidays, currency, etc.

Translation vs Localization

This may seem quite daunting, and cause you to throw your arms in the air and forget about the whole thing. Before you do that, consider one thing…

To translate your app into the language of the market you wish to enter is 99% of the way towards making that app local. By translating your app you are making it accessible to a local audience – it can now be understood and enjoyed by a larger number of potential customers.

App localization is obviously the route to the best quality product. However, you might consider app translation as an interim step towards full localization, and increase your sales in the meantime without the need for expensive consultants.