How to Translate an iPhone App

Translating your iPhone app can be a relatively simple task as long as you follow the necessary steps in order to make the process run efficiently and smoothly.

Step 1: Decide on Languages

When translating your iPhone app, the first step is to decide on which languages you want to make your app available.

While it would be great to have your app available in every language imaginable, it might not be cost-effective to translate it into languages with little or no target market. Decide which language users would most be interested in a localized version of your app, and stick to those languages. Ultimately, it's up to you as the app developer to decide what locales you wish to target.

Step 2: App Descriptions

Once you decide, you can start by localizing/translating your app description and metadata in the App Store. Customers are more likely to want to download your app if they can read what it's about in their native language. After all, what good is having your app's content translated if users have no idea what it's about or that it's even available in their native language?

For details on localizing metadata, keywords, and screenshots, review the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.

Step 3: Structure your Content

When you are ready to have the content of your iPhone app translated, you must first ensure your app is structured to support localized content.

Be sure your app is structured correctly by:

  • Creating separate user-visible text and images from your executable code to be translated.
  • Integrating the content back into your app as separate localized resource files stored within your app's bundle.
  • Using system provided APIs to express and manage user-visible or dynamically generated values properly across different locales (e.g. dates, lengths, weights, prices, currency symbols, etc.)
  • Ensuring your app accepts user-generated text in any language and in multiple languages at once, independent of the language of the user interface.

Step 4: Extracting Content into a .Strings file

Applications developed for various Apple platforms can be prepared by extracting the content into a .strings file, the format commonly used for iOS software.

Strings files associate text in an app (the value) with another string (the key). A localizer uses the key to help him or her identify the text in the user interface and then translates that text.


This system is most useful for translating websites, software, and other applications. You can see the structure in the following example.


Note: The first value between the quotation marks is treated as a variable and is not translated. The second value between the quotation marks is treated as the text to translate.

A strings file contains textual items localized to a specific language and matched to arbitrary strings used as keys. The file has an extension of strings. When an app runs on a device, it finds strings in the strings files that are in the user's preferred language and displays them. (Of course, the app must support a localization for that language.) In iOS, internationalization uses three different types of strings files:

  • Strings files that Xcode automatically generates from base-internationalization storyboards or nib files
  • Strings files for localizing user-visible properties in the app's information property list, such as the display name of an app
  • Strings files for strings created and displayed by the app's code

Step 5: Uploading to Ackuna

Once you have created your strings files, you are now ready to upload them to Ackuna.

If you haven't done so already, create a free profile at Once you create a profile, you can upload your project. From now on, it's as easy as A, B, C!

A: Language Options
Choose the source language of your project. This is limited to one language, usually English. Next, choose all the target languages you want your files to be translated into.
B: Project Text
Upload your generated strings file for translation.
C: Tell us more about your project
Provide any additional information about your project. The more information you can provide, the better it will be for the translators working on your project. Most of the lines of text in your app probably are short and don't provide many clues as to context. So be descriptive about your app in order to ensure the highest level of accuracy.

Project Preview

After you upload your strings file, you will be shown the details of your project. If there are any mistakes or if you need to change anything, you can choose the ‘Edit project details' button at the bottom of the page.


Translation Method

Choose the method of translation you would like for the content of your app.

Other Options

Do you have a logo for your app already? Upload it for additional exposure on Ackuna. You can also change the number of votes per translation. The more votes required, the longer your project may take to complete, but you will receive a higher consensus that the translation is accurate.


Project deadlines will vary. Because no two projects are alike, it is impossible to accurately gauge how long a project will take to complete. The complexity, word count, language pairs, and number of available translators will all factor into the timeframe.

If you need your project completed faster, consider posting a call-for-help with a link to this project to your friends on Facebook, or if you're an app developer, your mailing list, fan page, or your iTunes Store or Google Play app description. If speed is a major factor, you can always choose the Professional Translation option, and receive your completed translation in 24-48 hours.

Who are the Crowd-Source Translators?

Ackuna has thousands of volunteer translators waiting to help translate your project. When you submit your project for free, choosing the crowdsourced translation option, we will immediately notify the translators for your chosen language pairs. You are also shown the number of translators that will be notified about your project.


Create Project

Once you submit your project, just sit back and let Ackuna do the rest. You can track the progress of your translation through your Ackuna account. Once it is completely finished, you can download the translated file. At this point it is ready to be uploaded to your app. No other formatting is required!

Step 6: Promote Your App in Local Markets

Now you are ready to promote your app to the new language users. Apple offers promotional badge and product images that are localized in many languages, which you can use to promote your app on the App Store and MacApp Store. iOS and Mac Developer Program members can download these badges from the App Store Resource Center (

Diagram of how localization works

For more information, visit Apple's tutorial: