Google Offering Translation Services to Android App Developers

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-11-13

Google Offering Translation Services to Android App Developers

Google is launching inexpensive language translation services to Android developers to help them get their apps translated so they can sell them in other countries.

The new service, which is expected to cost about $75 for a small app to about $150 for a large app for each language translation, was unveiled in a Nov. 11 post by Ellie Powers of the Google Play team, on the Google Android Developers Blog.

"To help developers reach users in other languages, we launched the App Translation Service, which allows developers to purchase professional app translations through the Google Play Developer Console," wrote Powers. "This is part of a toolbox of localization features you can (and should!) take advantage of as you distribute your app around the world through Google Play."

The App Translation Service was previewed in May at the Google I/O developer's conference, she wrote, and is being launched now to help Android developers find new markets for their apps. "Every day, more than 1.5 million new Android phones and tablets around the world are turned on for the first time," she wrote. "Each newly activated Android device is an opportunity for you as a developer to gain a new user, but frequently, that user speaks a different language from you."

Many app developers participated in the App Translation Service pilot program earlier this year, including the developers of Zombie Ragdoll, who used the service to launch their new game simultaneously in 20 languages in August 2013, wrote Powers. "When they combined app translation with local marketing campaigns, they found that 80 percent of their installs came from non-English-language users."

Another pilot user, the developer of the dating app SayHi Chat, had the app expanded into 13 additional languages using the translation service and experienced 120 percent install growth, wrote Powers. "The developer of card game G4A Indian Rummy found that the App Translation Service was easier to use than their previous translation methods, and saw a 300 percent increase with user engagement in localized apps."

Android developers who are interested in learning more about the translation service can start with the localization checklist that can guide them through the process, wrote Powers.

"You'll need to get your APK ready for translation, and select the languages to target for translation," she wrote. "If you're unsure about which languages to select, Google Play can help you identify opportunities. First, review the Statistics section in the Developer Console to see where your app has users already. Does your app have a lot of installs in a certain country where you haven't localized to their language? Are apps like yours popular in a country where your app isn’t available yet? Next, go to the Optimization Tips section in the Developer Console to make sure your APK, store listing, and graphics are consistently translated."

Google Offering Translation Services to Android App Developers

The new service continues on Google's tradition of adding and updating translation capabilities in its products. The Web-based tools make it easier for Web users to understand the information they find, even if it's in a foreign language.

In August, Google added a Google+ translation feature to help users quickly get basic translations when other users make posts in languages other than their own on Google+.

In July 2013, Google integrated language translation services into its Chrome for Android Version 28 Web browser. The integration provided automatic detection of foreign languages when users browse Web pages, as well as a follow-up offer to translate those pages into the user's native language.

In May 2013, Google Translate on Android added 16 more languages for its camera input feature, while Google's Web-based Translate service added five more languages. The camera-input feature allows users to take a photo of a sign in a foreign language so it can be translated. The performance of the camera-input feature was also improved at that time. The updates also now let users save their favorite translated phrases to a phrasebook in their Android devices so they can easily call them up again when needed. In the past, users could not easily access those saved translations on the go from their smartphones or tablets. The 16 added languages were Bulgarian, Catalan, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Croatian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Latvian, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian and Swedish.

The Google Translate feature for Web-based users received language updates for Bosnian, Cebuano, Hmong, Javanese and Marathi. Bosnian is an official language in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Cebuano is one of the languages spoken in the Philippines. Hmong is spoken in many countries across the world, including China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and throughout the United States, while Javanese is the second most-spoken language in Indonesia. Marathi is spoken in India. More than 70 languages are now supported by Google Translate.

In March 2013, Google Translate for Android got a big upgrade when Google unveiled a feature that lets traveling users access language-translation services on their mobile devices, even when they don't have access to an Internet connection. Instead of relying on a connection, users can now download individual offline language apps for devices running Android 2.3 or higher. Users can install the free app to their Android device and gain the capabilities to translate text and speech, as well as listen to the translations being spoken aloud. Users can input the text they want to translate using their voice, handwriting or the device's camera. Users can also save their favorite translations for easy offline access later. Plus, they can view dictionary results for single words or phrases as needed. The offline apps are less comprehensive than their online equivalents, but they are perfect for translating in a pinch when users are traveling abroad with poor reception or without mobile data access.

Google Translate for Android was introduced in 2010 and has been steadily gaining useful features for users. In late 2011, Google improved its then-new "conversation mode" feature, which allows users to communicate fluently with a nearby person in another language. Users can use the feature by speaking into their Android handset's microphone so that the app can translate what they say and then read the translation back to them aloud. The person to whom the user is directing his or her speech can then reply in their language from their phone. Conversation Mode translates what they say and reads it back to the original speaker. 

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