What You Need to Know about Mobile App Localization in 2024!

If you look anywhere around you, you’ll probably notice that most people have their eyes glued to their smartphones. Data shows that in 2024, smartphone users worldwide will exceed 6.9 billion. And what are all these people doing? Using one or more mobile apps.

This is great news for mobile app developers, who have a fast-growing market before them. Add in the fact that mobile commerce—or m-commerce—is witnessing a surge of its own, and there’s lots of opportunity in building and subsequently localizing mobile apps.

But there’s more to mobile apps than just creating new ones. Users, first, need to download your app and then they need to start using it.

But what if your customers speak a different language than yours? Or if you’re considering expanding your customer base by breaking into new markets in entirely new languages to you?

What do you do then? The answer is simple: You turn to mobile app localization.

And this is what this article is all about. We’ll be focusing on what mobile app localization is, how localization differs from internationalization, what the top app localization best practices are, and more.

The Rising Popularity of Mobile Apps

Smartphone users are expected to reach 6.935 billion this year. This figure is forecast to pass 7.7 billion by 2028, according to Statista.

China marks the largest number of smartphone users with nearly 912 million people, followed by India and the United States.

And a growing number of smartphone users means more people are spending time on mobile apps.

There were roughly 218 billion mobile app downloads across Android and iPhone apps in 2020, according to data by EmizenTech.

Mobile apps range from entertainment and games apps to personal finance to business-to-business apps to chat apps to a host of other areas where consumers are actively scrolling through, searching for, and clicking keys on their phones.

But what this really indicates is that there’s a growing need for mobile apps and a large opportunity for developers and business owners alike when it comes to creating a mobile app.

However, businesses that consider expanding beyond their country or region to areas that speak a different language have to look at mobile apps differently.

Mobile apps offer an opportunity but if your target customers don’t speak your language, you’re in a tight spot trying to reach them, communicate with them, and sell to them.

That’s where mobile app localization comes in. To bridge that gap between businesses with mobile apps and customers elsewhere on the globe.

Localization Vs Internationalization: What’s The Difference?

Before we delve into mobile app localization and best practices, we first need to identify four fairly confusing terms.

  • Translation: This is when you simply want to transform the text of a certain document, video, or website into another language.
  • Localization: With localization, you’re going a step further in the realm of translation. You’re giving your translation a more local feel. With mobile app localization, you’ll feel as if the app was made in your home country and speaks the same language as you do.
  • Internationalization: This is where you create products and services with the intention of expanding to a foreign or international market.
    Many international companies have taken internationalization approaches with their brand logos over recent years.

One such brand was Starbucks, whose initial logo had ‘Starbucks Coffee’ written on it, whereas its new one shed the text and focused on the iconic mermaid.

This means that internationalization isn’t about languages used but instead focuses on user-facing (or customer-facing) content in a way that’s language-independent. Internationalization further extends to a mobile app’s coding.

  • Globalization: This is where the big picture comes into play. Globalization is about adopting new ideas, products, and branding to help you expand to those global markets. Globalization is the larger and broader element on this list.

Why App Localization Is Important

With the number of mobile app users increasing almost every day, you can probably guess that mobile apps are becoming a must-have for businesses everywhere.

But what are the benefits of localizing your mobile application?

Here are a few benefits:

1- Expanding to New Markets with New Languages

Mobile app localization means you can reach more customers in new countries, which means expanding your customer base and growing your sales.

2- More Mobile App Downloads

As more people from different markets become familiar with your brand, you’ll see an increase in your mobile app downloads and subsequently app usage.

3- Higher Revenue

Both increased app downloads and expanding to new markets (if done correctly) should translate into higher sales and revenues for your business.

4- Better Personalization Opportunities

Customers today are all about personalization. And one of the best ways to entice customers with personalization is through mobile apps.

If you’re an e-commerce business, providing your customers with personalized experiences can help you build customer retention.

Data by Epsilon showed that nearly 80% of 1,000 consumers surveyed said they were more likely to buy from a brand that offered personalized experiences over one that didn’t.

Therefore, localizing your e-commerce business app makes it more user-friendly for customers and tailors the shopping experience to their preferences.

Common App Localization Challenges

As you can expect, nothing is without challenges. Mobile applications aren’t an exception, especially when you add localization to the mix.

1- Awareness  of Cultural Differences

One of the biggest localization challenges, whether it’s mobile apps or website localization, is being aware of cultural differences.

Localization is about diving deep into culture and that’s where problems arise. Cultures are different. Even countries where the same language is spoken often have different cultures.

Look at the US and the UK for example. Both countries speak English but their local culture is different. The same applies to Arab countries. There are 26 Arab nations in total, but each has fairly different traditions, significantly varied accents and dialects, among others.

2- Making Room for More Languages in the Future

Deciding to localize your mobile app is a big step. You need to ensure that while coding your mobile app, you make room for other languages you may want to add in the future.

Otherwise, you’ll be confronted with a host of user experience (UX) headaches that may have you launch a new app entirely for another language. (And we’re not going to comment on how expensive and time-consuming that is!)

You should notify your developer about how text may shrink or expand based on the language it’s being translated to.

For example, if you’re localizing your app from English to Arabic, your text will expand by roughly 25%, whereas when translating from English to Korean, your mobile app text will shrink by 10% to 15%.

Translating your mobile app from English to German may see your text expanding by 10% to as much as 30%.

3- Beware Of Text Direction

Another translation and localization challenge is text direction.

Different languages, especially non-European ones, have different text directions. 

Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, and Japanese, all fall under languages that look different and don’t start from the left-hand side like English.

How to Localize an App?

Localizing your app helps you break language and cultural barriers with users around the world. It’s therefore important you review the best app localization practices to expand your app’s reach. Done correctly, app localization can remarkably enhance user engagement, ramp up your app download rate, and drive revenue.

Let’s explore the best practices associated with mobile app localization for a smooth entry into new markets.

1- Understand Your Target Audience

Before starting your app localization process, you need to conduct market research and understand your target audience.

Doing so gives you insights into user demographics, behavior patterns, and competitors in your target markets.

Consequently, this will introduce you to your target audience’s cultural norms, preferences, and language variations.

2. Identifying Key Elements for Localization

Not all content within your app requires localization. However, there are key elements to consider before you begin localizing the content of your app. Here are some of them:

  • Textual Content

This includes menu options, buttons, error messages, and notifications. Make sure translations are culturally appropriate and contextually relevant.

Keyword volumes vary by country based on both app store optimization (ASO) and search engine optimization (SEO). So, you need to look for relevant keywords to include in your app for specific countries.

You’ll also need to hire a native speaker to translate the core meaning of your app content along with some colloquial phrases.

  • Currency 

The currency and prices included in your app should match the user’s location.

  • Symbols and Emojis

Another element that varies from one country to another is the use of symbols and emojis. Misusing symbols and emojis can lead to drastic misunderstandings.

  • Units of Measurements

Translators should also take units of measurement into consideration during the app localization process. Units of measurement often change among counties. 

For example, the United States uses imperial measurements, while most countries use the metric system.

  • Date and Time Formats

Another key element to consider is date and time formats. They should be adapted based on the preferences of your target audience. 

For example, in the United States, the date format begins with the month followed by the day and year. Meanwhile, the majority of countries across the world start the date format with the day followed by the month and year. 

Time format should be displayed based on the country you’re localizing the app for, whether they adopt a 12-hour or 24-hour format.

  • Numeric Format

When localizing your app, you should adapt numeric formats like decimal separators and digit grouping. This will make your app align with local conventions.

For instance, the number format of 1,000.1 is correct in the United States, while in Europe the correct format is 1.000,1.

3– Provide Your Translators (Or Agency) With Context

One of the most important aspects of localization is background and context.

Whether you decide to work with freelancers, or a translation agency, or opt to localize your mobile app in-house, you should always provide your translators with context.

  • Explain Your App’s Purpose

Provide translators or the agency with information about your app such as  What problem does your app solve? Who’s your target audience?

For example, if your app is a mobile banking app, translators should know banking terminologies and be familiar with the local currency and exchange rates in the intended market. 

  • Be familiar with UI Design

You have to let translators access the app’s user interface (UI) and experience it. This will enable them to understand how text strings are integrated within the app.

It’s important for translators to see where and how their translations will appear in the app for the purpose of proper context and alignment. 

This will also help optimize the UI design for different languages, considering factors like text expansion or contraction, right-to-left language support, and layout adjustments.

  • Clarifying Tone and Style

Among the information you have to provide your translators or translation agency with is the tone and style you aim for.

Every app has its own tone and style, whether it’s formal, casual, or professional, among others.

So, providing clear guidelines on tones and style helps translators ensure consistency of content throughout the localization process.

For example, a gaming app would use a more informal tone compared to a business app that uses a professional tone.

4– Provide Translators With All Needed Materials

You should also provide your translators (agency, freelancers, or in-house employees) with all relevant materials. Even your in-house translators may not be 100% familiar with the details of your product and app.

That’s why, it’s best to provide them with a brief about your needs, materials on where to look for resources and references, and have someone who can answer their questions.

5– Use Localization Testing

Localization testing is the process of testing the outcome of the translation and localization process of your mobile app across different devices and screen sizes that are used in the region.

  • Choose the Right Localization Tool

There are various AI-powered and cloud-based tools and platforms to assist in the localization process. 

It’s better to choose a certified localization tool such as Lokalise, POEditor, and Crowdin.

  • Testing and Feedback Loops

Localization testing is a paramount step to make sure your app functions correctly in different languages and regions. And so is gathering user feedback.

Once your app is localized and live, you can gather feedback from users to detect any issues or areas for improvement.

Feedback can be collected via in-app surveys, ratings, and reviews. You can use this feedback to continuously update your app accordingly.

This will keep your ongoing localization process up to date when it comes to language trends and market dynamics.

6– Don’t Forget About UX Translation

In addition to the copy used in the mobile app, part of mobile app development, including app localization, is using UX translation.

UX translation is about translating the microcopy to help users navigate through the mobile app. This includes buttons, and names of tabs, among other elements in the mobile app localization process.

7– Use A Tool That Supports Right-To-Left Languages

A common mobile app localization best practice is using a tool that supports right-to-left languages like Arabic, Hebrew, and others.

This should save you time when you decide to break into these markets and localize your app into these languages.

8– Consider Working With A Localization Agency

The process of localizing a mobile app is a long and complex one. Working with freelancers may save you some money but the localization process may take longer and have you struggling to bring the different pieces of localizing your app.

On the other hand, working with a translation and localization agency, like TranslationPartner, saves you time, effort, and a lot of hard work. Plus, you get all of the pieces of localizing your mobile app delivered to you.


People download new apps almost every day. At the same time, they use various mobile apps daily. Have you considered the number of apps you use on a given day? A lot.

Your customers do the same thing. You can use this information to your advantage in multiple ways. You may choose to expand your customer base by ensuring your customers can buy from you via a mobile app or by exploring potential markets and bringing your products to new markets.

If you have a current mobile app, look at your app analytics and see where your customers are coming from. The Exakt Health app did exactly that. They reviewed their analytics and discovered that 80% of their traffic came from the US, although their services were directed to the European market.

If you’re looking for mobile app localization services, get in touch with the TranslatonPartner team.