One of the greatest concerns of all developers is whether their applications will be accepted and used by a big audience. It’s a fact that the bigger that audience is, the more sales or downloads will be achieved, resulting to applications that sit at the top of the rankings and of course, applications that make a better profit. There are many factors that take part to the success of an application. Undoubtably, the most important one is the implemented features in it, but not only. Another factor that matters a lot, is whether an app is localized or not. A localized application will definitely meet a greater acceptance by the users who natively speak other languages, as it will be looking much more friendly and accessible than an application with the same features that supports just one localization, i.e. in English.
Deepening a bit more to what I just said, think that a French, a Greek, or a Chinese user won’t download easily an application that isn’t translated and localized to his language, unless there are great features in it. Many developers believe that by creating an app to a well known language that is spoken or learnt by the biggest part of the population, such as English, and by providing it worldwide, there is no need to do any localization, as the potentials users are too many, so it’s not a big deal to “lose” some of them because of the language. However that’s a wrong way to think. Making an application available to as many languages as possible, will result to a better user experience, while at the same time it will maximize the resonance by the users.
Localization is strongly related to another term, the internationalization. According to Apple:
Localization is the process of translating your app into multiple languages. But before you can localize your app, you internationalize it.
Internationalization is the process of making your app able to adapt to different languages, regions, and cultures
The above two definitions are pretty explanatory, and they describe in the best possible way each term. Speaking of localization, it’s important to say that when doing it we don’t just translate any existing texts (strings) to another language. More steps are included than that, such as translating the subviews in the storyboard, and using the proper resources for each region. For example, an app could contain many copies of the same image, each one redesigned or redrawn and localized according to the supported languages and regions. The same should happen with sound files. Also, displaying numbers, currencies and dates in the proper format is part of the localization process. For instance, the decimal number 8.3 is represented just like that in US, but in Germany the same number should be represented as 8,3 (where the comma is used instead of the dot). Of course, a localized app can support right-to-left (RTL) languages as well.