Translation · Mobile

What is the best service for translating an app into multiple languages?

Rachel Ratliff Voki Mobile

February 24th, 2015

We've recently launched (, and because it's a messaging app, we want to translate the app into as many languages as possible, as cheaply as possible (of course). Does anyone have good experience with one or more services that do this? I'm thinking of Mechanical Turk,, and the like, but I worry about quality control, especially when i can't check the work product. Any advice would be appreciated. 

Brian McConnell

February 24th, 2015

I am the head of localization for Insightly, so this is basically what I do for my job. You need to do three things: 1) you need to prepare your app for localization by moving all human readable prompts into prompt files (most mobile dev environments force you to do this, so you should have already done this). 2) select a translation management system, this is sort of like a source code repo. I highly recommend Transifex for this. It is cloud based, inexpensive, and supports all popular localization file formats (they also have a Javascript based tool for translating websites). 3) select a translation agency to do the actual translation work. Be sure to pick one that has experience with localization. Expect to pay around 15-20 cents per word for qualified translators with peer review and QA. You get what you pay for, so if you go with one of the cheap agencies, you'll get crap translations that make you look like an amateur. If you need to cut costs, reduce the amount of verbage in your UI and/or reduce the number of languages supported. You can get a lot of traction with just a handful of languages. I'd recommend: Spanish (Latin American), Portuguese (Brazilian), French, Italian, and German. That gets you nearly all of Europe, the Americas, Commonwealth countries, and a good part of Africa. Add Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and you have Asia well covered. My $0.02

Jack Shedd Interactive Director at Mess

February 24th, 2015

Seconding Transifex. It's the best thing I've found for projects with many, many languages that remains in active development.

Mihai Dragomirescu "There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in."

February 24th, 2015

Transifex is good for bigger projects. For smaller translations i've used Genco (also used by Transifex) 

Travis Workman Founder/President at Cognisoft

February 24th, 2015

Rachel - You could use something like Google Translate or the Bing equivelant I have found them to be pretty good in translations and they do have an API. The one thing they do not do however is translate them with correct grammer meaning sentence construct may not be correct but at least you will be able to do som quality control checks. I hope this is helpful

Dan Kihanya President, Harlequin Hawk Company

February 24th, 2015

Check out They have expertise in mobile. Only need to a few lines of code to your app and they do the rest.


February 24th, 2015

+1 for Transifex, make it a part of your build process to get new translations as they are built.

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

February 25th, 2015

What Brian said.    Google Translate (as a multi-lingual speaker I find Bing Translate does a better job actually)  only does a so-so job.   but local language expertise is invaluable.   For example the following site has no grammatical errors in its use of the English language - but reading the thumbnail sketches its clear that this was translated from French by someone who is book competent but not fluent in English

One has to say that there is a gentle poetry to

Disciple of the design thinking, she had the idea of the bracelet. Even though she doesn't work with us, she follows the project with kindness.

But its quite clearly not business english

Donal Scannell Founder at Gigstarter

February 26th, 2015

Rachel - talk to the team at Reverbeo - they have a great product for taking the pain out of translating apps.

Bob Gates Co-founder, Landdox

February 27th, 2015

I used Smartling in the past and found them very helpful and the tool pretty easy to use. You embed their code in your site, and then you can hire outside translators to do the actual translation, or you can use Smartling's network of translators. We brought in our own translators, so I don't know about the quality of Smartling's.

VS Joshi Founder of Mobile Startup in Social & IoT space - TrintMe

February 27th, 2015

Try big sky. I haven't used them. But they gave a good pitch. If you don't get them, call me and I will connect to the right person. They are cheap too. Cheers VS Joshi 408 507 6507