Android: A World of Language Support

March 16, 2015 Peter Betts

In the 9 years since Google acquired Android, it has grown to be the world's most popular mobile operating system (OS). To achieve this, the Google Android team developed language support features so that Android OS-based phones fully function in the language of the user's choice.

Market Share and Language Support

Below is a pie chart showing the percentage of the world that uses Android:

Worldwide Smart Mobile Device Market Share - Q1 2013

GPI_Android_2

Data by Canalys

 

The list of languages currently supported by Android are:

Language Code
· Afrikaans · af
· Amharic · am
· Bulgarian · bg
· Catalan · ca
· Chinese (PRC) · zh-CN
· Chinese (Taiwan) · zh-TW
· Croatian · hr
· Czech · cs
· Danish · da
· Dutch · nl
· English (UK) · en-GB
· English (US) · en-US
· Estonian · et
· Filipino · fil
· Finnish · fi
· French (Canada) · fr-CA
· French (France) · fr-FR
· German · de
· Greek · el
· Hindi · hi
· Hungarian · hu
· Indonesian · id / in
· Italian · it
· Japanese · ja
· Korean · ko
· Latvian · lv
· Lithuanian · lt
· Malay · ms
· Norwegian · no
· Polish · pl
· Portuguese (Brazil) · pt-BR
· Portuguese (Portugal) · pt-PT
· Romanian · ro
· Russian · ru
· Serbian · sr
· Slovak · sk
· Slovenian · sl
· Spanish (Latin America) · es-419
· Spanish (Spain) · es-ES
· Swahili · sw
· Swedish · sv
· Thai · th
· Turkish · tr
· Ukrainian · uk
· Zulu · zu

Source: https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/table/4419860?hl=en

 

Future Plans

In June, Google mentioned they are close to releasing a multilingual feature that will allow users of an Android OS device to easily switch between languages using Google Now search. When this becomes available, the feature will allow users to select as many as 7 different languages for various phone functions and applications. You could perform a search in one language, run an application in another and look up your contacts in yet another language, all without having to re-set any settings between use of the apps or functions.

I have an Android phone and will only have a need for one language at a time but, I have many polyglot friends who will likely use this feature daily once it is a released.  Today, many families speak multiple languages in their homes and would like the ability to use their mobile devices in multiple languages to play a game online with others, use various social media applications and browse the web.

GPI_Android_3

 

When considering localization of applications for mobile devices, it is not only the people in a target country that may benefit and seek use of the localized app.  Many of the native speakers who have migrated to other countries will also use their phones in multiple languages.

 

Conclusion

Android is an excellent mobile operating system with strong language support. It is great that they are continuing to expand the language features and capabilities. If you are a mobile application developer with an interest in supporting mobile users globally or a mobile user looking to use your phone in a language other than English, you should feel confident that Android is a platform that can support your needs in almost every market in the world today.

Mobile application translation or localization is typically an affordable option for many start-ups, rather than the cost for an enterprise or PC-based application, as it will have much less text to translate. Here is a link to a GPI blog to provide tips on what to consider when creating a mobile app with localization in mind: /what-to-consider-for-mobile-application-localization.aspx.

 

Additional Resources from GPI

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has developed a suite of globalization tools to achieve internationalization. You can explore them under the Tools sections of our Translation Services. GPI also offers internationalization and globalization consulting services and can evaluate your application. Partnering with GPI before you localize or translate your application will ensure that you avoid many mistakes and will also save you considerable time and money on your localization projects.

For more information about mobile application translation and localization please check our services and blogs:

Please feel free to contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com with any questions about our translation services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in future blogs!

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About the Author

Peter Betts

Peter has over 18 years experience in business development within the localization industry supporting clients for documentation, software and website globalization services. He started his career in the translation industry in 1995 and over the years has worked for several leading localization service providers. Throughout his career Peter has led by example and always put his clients’ needs first to ensure client expectations are understood and successfully met. Over the years Peter has trained extensively in Solution Selling, Action Selling and Localization Sales, Testing and Project Management. Peter handles many of GPI’s global accounts helping educate clients on GPI’s comprehensive suite of globalization services and industry best practices.

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