Google has announced several upgrades to it's new Android keyboard. The Gboard now has the ability to do automatic translation. As you type, the new Google Translate integration will translate text in real time as you type it in.
When you first dream of launching an app globally, the excitement of sharing your product with the world can sometimes blind you to the intricacies involved in the process. Regardless of how rose-colored your glasses are, however, taking an app global presents unique challenges which must be addressed.
Why App Localization is NeededIf you are a regular reader of this blog, you have seen many posts about what localization is and why it matters. For a brief refresher, you can check out the Dynamic Language "Guide to Written Language Services Infographic" or take a look at the article "Taking Your App Global - What Could Go Wrong?"
The goal of localization is to enable a user who speaks another language to have the same user experience as a user who speaks the language in which the app was first developed. Rather than a word for word translation, the aim of localization is to provide a comparable user experience to a linguistically and culturally diverse target audience.
Research is KeyJust as local market research is fundamental to your success domestically, careful research of foreign markets enables a sure-footed expansion process. Steamfeed's "Advice for Startups Looking to Go Global" notes: "One of the biggest mistakes that ambitious startups make is to decide on a market before doing the research. There are some markets around the world that are literally exploding but that doesn't mean that your company would do well there. Just because an economy is booming doesn't mean there is a need or desire for your products or services. Before deciding on where you would like to expand, get the facts."
You’ve worked hard to build a successful tech startup with an app that is ready expand across borders. Now you are faced with the next big decision – how will you handle the localization of your app and your marketing content for a global audience?
It’s second nature for us to proclaim the benefits of localization, but is there ever a downside to going global? Software localization services are a net benefit for enterprises, but they can also have drawbacks which are seldom discussed. A recent article by the Common Sense Advisory found that while localization makes software attractive to foreign buyers, it also opens up the possibility of foreign piracy.
The CEO of tinyBuild recently provided country-specific figures for the game Punch Club, revealing initial piracy rates of 97% for Brazil. In other markets, more Germans bought the game than pirated it, with the highest buy rate of any country. The next best countries were the US (23%) and France (17%), but less than 4% in Russia, China, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, and Poland bought the game.
When learning a foreign language, accurate pronunciation of new vocabulary words can be one of the toughest skills to master. As the language-learning world becomes more and more digital, language learners are more likely to turn to online tools, such as Google Translate, for pronunciation help. However, the computer voice often sounds robotic, garbled, and difficult to understand.
1. Prepare for Text Expansion
While text size matters on any type of screen, it’s especially critical to plan for text expansion as you develop your mobile application in other languages. Without proper adjustment to text fields, the corresponding translated content may not fit on mobile devices, given their smaller screens with limited space for text and images. Your localization provider can make adjustments to sentences or words that have fit issues (such as abbreviation and word choice), but it’s best to plan for this at the outset.
Gaming applications are wildly popular these days, thanks to significant increases in both the accessibility and performance of mobile devices around the world. If you are a developer planning to launch your app in new markets, you first have to localize your application to adapt to the language and tone of that target audience.
It’s especially important to achieve a natural and desirable play experience for each specific cultural context. End users value a localized game in their native language and with their own culture in mind. This greatly enhances their experience and makes them feel that the game was truly meant for them! Here are ten of the hottest international markets for gaming applications.
Language Learning Goes Mobile
One of the inevitable challenges of learning a new language or honing your language fluency skills is not having the “intuition” that comes naturally to native speakers. Most of us have had the frustrating experience of trying to find the meanings of words by plugging text into machine-translation services or searching in dictionaries, only to find terms that are either outdated or not used in casual conversation. We are often left with more questions than when we started!
The creators of Memrise – a free, online language learning program – have recently released a wonderful app called CatAcademy. The app, which teaches Spanish through entertaining pictures of cats, is quite ingenious and definitely worth downloading for anyone wanting to learn the basics of the language.
Version 2.0 of Sonico Mobile’s popular app iTranslate Voice released early July, and it boasts a few swanky improvements to keep users satisfied.
I attended a wonderful panel last week that talked about the globalization of mobile apps and games. Based on their conversation, the mobile gaming industry is growing at high velocity. Although opinions differ, it’s been speculated by many that by 2015, the industry's annual revenue is expected to reach $50 billion.
For companies trying to maximize their piece of that pie, dominating secondary markets is a critical strategy.
Google has made its 2-step verification process for all Google accounts available in 40 languages and in more than 150 countries!
iPhone app developers are on a roll! It seems we’re introduced to a new translation app every week, and the month of February was no different.
New to Android phones is the Conversation Mode feature, where users can speak with their foreign-speaking friends in real time. Conversation Mode uses Google’s machine translation technology to convert the spoken word from English into Spanish, and vice versa.
|Windmill, Santorini, Greece|
I’m recently back home in Seattle after taking my wife and kids to Europe for what turned out to be an amazing vacation. As an avid iPhone user, and manager of a small business, it was imperative to stay well-connected to the office during the trip. Plus I wanted to use the iPhone as the great travel tool it is. With those goals in mind, I did a fair amount of research to make sure that I didn’t end up with zero data coverage, nor a horror story 4 digit phone bill because of international data roaming.
Here’s how I solved the dilemma of using my iPhone in Europe:
Shortly before our trip, I purchased a shiny new iPhone 4 (which I absolutely love, but that’s another blog post), however, I still had my iPhone 3G. It was definitely my preference to use the iPhone 4, but knowing that the iPhone 4 has a new type of SIM card (micro SIM, I believe), and that it might be challenging to get SIM cards of that type in Europe, I decided to go with my 3G for the entire trip. Another factor in that decision is that my 3G was already a “jailbroken” phone with the software unlock, meaning I could use a SIM card from any network provider in it. Also at that point, there was no reliable jailbreak solution for the iPhone 4, though that has now changed (As of mid August, 2010).
First stop: Paris (Finding a SIM card)
Our itinerary included stops in Paris, and 3 different islands in Greece. Step 1 in the plan was to identify a coverage provider that could provide 3G data coverage at our first destination, Paris. The way I did that was to briefly turn on my iPhone 4 upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport, turning on Data Roaming support, at which point my phone quickly connected to “Orange” and the coverage was 3G. Hooray! I knew the rates for this were exorbitant, but I had already turned off e-mail functionality, and planned on using a bare minimum amount of data.
After using Google Maps to find our apartment in Paris, I then used Maps to find the closest “Tabac” or Tobacco Shop, which sold both pre-paid SIM cards and card refills. I then put my iPhone 4 in "Airplane Mode" to ensure that there wouldn't be an billing surprises.
In my pre-trip research, I often read that you can get SIM cards at these Tabac shops for 15 Euros or so, but what I didn’t realize is that not all SIM cards are created equal. If you only want phone minutes and text messages, you can probably do fine with a generic card from a Tabac. But it was critical to me to have a significant amount of data usage available for my iPhone during our stay, plus 3G support.
So, after speaking with a helpful Tabac owner, he directed me to the closest Orange store. There, I was able to purchase a pre-paid SIM card for 15 Euro, with cash and info from my American Driver’s license. I turned it on in the store, verified connectivity and coverage, and I was on my way. What they did not tell me at the time, is that unless you modify your rate plan on these pre-paid cards, you burn through your Euro credits at a ridiculous rate of about 1MB per Euro – I’m not sure exactly how it is, but suffice it to say that within a day I had a text message from Orange letting me know that I needed to re-fill my account. At that point, I returned to the Orange store, talked to another representative, who kindly let me know that for 12 Euros, they offer a plan called “Internet Max”, which amounts to unlimited data usage for 12 Euros per month. I happily added 15 Euros, and activated that plan with his help.
From that point, whenever we were out, we used the iPhone constantly to help with the trip doing everything from helping us navigate the Paris Metro, find restaurants, plan our itinerary, plus we used a couple of audio tours from Rick Steves. I should mention that we did have free wifi coverage at our Paris apartment, and obviously used that when we were there for both our iPads, iPhone and computer, but around town, we depended on iPhone coverage. Further, we didn’t spend a lot of time relaxing in cafes, so we didn’t make a huge effort to find free wifi places around town.
On to Greece
When we arrived in Athens, the phone connected to “Cosmote” with a 3G connection, so that was my next target. In Athens, we were staying at a hotel that offered wifi availability on their website. I neglected to verify the costs for that before we booked this place, and received an unpleasant surprise that their rate structure for wifi was “15 Euro per day, per device” So, it was pretty unrealistic to connect two iPhones, two iPads, and a computer for the two days we were there – not that we really would have, but still I really didn’t care for their policy.
Anyway, in Athens, I was able to take the Metro to the Syntagma Square stop, where there is an electronics/media store called “Public” that got me all taken care of. (Plus, it was air conditioned, and on a 100 degree day, that was a nice respite!) It’s important to note that it was a laborious process to buy the pre-paid Cosmote SIM card, and get it working with my phone, however. Again, I just needed 15 Euro cash, plus my American driver’s license, but the rep needed quite a while to activate the card. (Also, being a “locked” SIM card, you have to input a code anytime you turn the phone off, then on.)
I left the store, and neglected to verify that data coverage was working – it wasn’t. This continued to be a problem until I spoke to an English speaking support rep on the phone, who activated their “60” plan. Unlike Orange’s unlimited internet plan, what Cosmote had to offer was 120MB of data for 3 Euro, and she said it could be renewed if I ran over my allotment. For me, this ended up being fine, and I never did need to reload during my two weeks in Greece as I limited my data usage there to periodically checking e-mail, and never doing data heavy things like picture MMS messages or uploading videos. Again, we had 3G coverage, and wifi availability in most places.
One note, in Oia, on the island of Santorini, we stayed at a fantastic little hotel, that also said it offered wifi. Unfortunately, it was on the same basis as the Athens hotel with a slight twist – you purchase a 15 Euro wifi card that gives you a code that, once activated, is good for 24 hours, supporting only a single device at a time. Not ideal, and I only needed to utilize that service for a single 24-hour period, thankfully. I had good coverage throughout Paris and Athens, and for most of Oia. Our last stop was the island of Kalymnos, and Cosmote coverage was good there as well. Not nearly as much 3G coverage as elsewhere, but I was almost never without signal.
Forwarding phone calls to the iPhone
One final topic – I’ve only talked about Data, and not phone and texting yet. The solution I decided to go with for being reachable via phone and text was a blended solution via Google Voice and Skype. I’m rarely on the phone anymore, but still wanted friends and work colleagues to be able to reach me. So, I set it up this way: I had my iPhone 4 set up to forward all calls to my Google voice number. Then, I set up Google Voice to forward all calls to my Skype phone number (a U.S. number), which was then forwarded to whatever SIM was active in my iPhone 3G. So, I had one number in France, and another in Greece, but could receive calls via my main US phone number.
The reason I chose this method was that any calls that went unanswered, I would still have a centralized place to receive voice mails (Google Voice) and also still receive transcribed versions of voice-mails via e-mail, and I also didn’t have to go through the hassle of notifying key people of the best way to reach me as I changed numbers.
All in all, I’m happy with how it worked out. Have you had similar experiences with phones when traveling?
Feel free to add a comment or question below!
Apple has finally released their highly anticipated iPhone 4. The new phone shows off a host of exciting features and a slick new style.
With translation technology taking off, an internet enabled cell phone is all that is needed to bridge the language gaps encountered in everyday life.
Gear up to learn a new language with Google’s help!
Google Translate now offers 34 languages in its text-to-speech application. You can learn a new language simply by typing in different phrases and listening to the voice synthesizer. Just be careful not to mimic it completely…some languages sound like a robot while others sound smoother. Hopefully after time, this will be fixed. But no one can complain about a free language lesson!
Trying to communicate in a foreign language can feelmore awkward than fast dancing during a slow song at a middle school dance. No one really understands what is going on, and everyone just wants to be over. The iPhone’s newest translation app will hopefully make awkward foreign language encounters go over a bit more smoothly. Converse will soon be the newest translation tool out there. It is a double ended multilingual translator that provides face-to-face instant messaging.
Useful iPhone Apps for Travelers
International Internet Company Babylon Ltd., released iBabylon for the iPhone and iPod Touch on February 22, 2010.
Google’s Android is sweeping the phone market with its new technology. Google was demonstrating how the new software worked at the Mobile World Congress (MWG) in Spain this week.
Ever wonder if we can one day speak to foreigners via phones without any language barriers?
Back by popular demand, Stanford University is offering a second chance to take part in their 10-week course, iPhone Application Programming. You can find class videos and copies of the slides on iTunes U.
Apple tries to keep up with the demand and adds:
Apple's iPhone has hit the market in China, and there has been a frenzy of iPhone Applications developed and/or localized for millions of new users. Software piracy is still a huge issue in China, and that includes the iPhone platform. The vast majority of Chinese iPhone users "jailbreak" their iPhones and are more likely to download pirated software. Still, however, analysts estimate the potential for over $6 million of legitimate iPhone app revenue by next year.
Since the iPhone’s big release in the summer of 2007, Google has been persistent in providing reliable iPhone applications to support “a friendlier interface.” Their newest edition is the ‘Free Translator’ application which allows business partners, clients, and prospects to interact using various languages.
‘Free Translator’ allows one individual to text a message in their "target" language while the recipient receives messages in their "source" language. For example, the "target" language could be English, but the recipient’s "source" language could be French. Google notes that “the quality of translation is generally very good indeed" which guarantees that "you can type in the most abstract sentences and something sensible will emerge."