Ask Applingua: How long does it take to localize an app?

Perhaps the most difficult question we get asked here at Applingua is how long it takes to localize an app. You’ve heard the expression, ‘how long is a piece of string’ right?

“How long does it take to localize an app? What’s an average number of strings? Will app localization or translation impact my release schedule?”

Let’s try to give some indication of what’s involved so you can better estimate a time frame. If in doubt, just send us your strings and we can give you a more solid timeline.

“How long does it take to localize an app?”

There are several factors that determine how long it will take to localize your app. But let’s start with the general rule.

General Rule

The general rule in translation and localization is 1500 words per day. That’s a comfortable rate and ensures text is not rushed. Bear in mind tho, that it doesn’t include extra services like additional proofreading, internal or agency QA checks and in-app testing.

Let’s take a document of 1500 words. In a perfect world, assuming the translator has availability, you could send it on Monday morning,and after translation and some extra time for a bit of QA and you should get it back at the end of business Tuesday.

The world is rarely perfect however (sigh). There are various factors that will affect delivery time, here are the main ones:

Factor 1: Word Count & Number of Languages

This one’s obvious. The more words, the longer it’ll take. It’s that simple. The general rule above is also negated if there are multiple languages as although translation can run concurrently, QA, project admin and in-app testing cannot. Each translator’s availability also differs.

Therefore a 500 word app with 15 languages could easily take as long as a 3000 word app in 2 languages.

Factor 2: String Complexity & Special Terminology

If you’re a highly specialized app, it does take additional time to get the terminology right and we’d always recommend in-app testing before launching.

Examples of specialized apps include anything particularly medical, financial or graphics orientated. For these types of apps it’s more appropriate to work on a basis of about 1000 words a day.

Factor 3: Availability and Overheads

Good, native, qualified translators are in demand. It’s not unheard of to get replies from translators stating availability in two weeks time!

Applingua is lucky enough to work with a core team of native translators who can turn our work around quickly (you can meet some of them here, in fact!). However, there are times when we, as an agency, are busy or our translators are just jammed packed with some great apps to translate. Lucky ducks.

If you are working directly with a translator, understand that they are also human and translation is quite a brain-intensive task. Translators, like the rest of us, need breaks from time to time to have a glass of prosecco or enjoy the latest copy of Bildzeitung.

OK, Enough Already, just give me a number!

We wish we could! Without knowing your word and language count it’s pretty hard, but let’s give a typical Applingua example. This takes into account that: we’re an agency, we work among our translators is quite evenly spread and there are a total of six languages, which increases admin and QA time.

We receive a simple request for a 500 word app in six languages:

  • Day 1 AM: Quote request received and we reply
  • Day 1 PM: Quote accepted, translators are briefed
  • Day 2 PM: All languages received
  • Day 3 AM: In-house QA and admin
  • Day 3 Noon: Send final files to client

If you add in-app testing to that, typically:

  • Day 4 AM: Build received via TestFlight or Provisioning
  • Day 4 PM: Applingua QA team debriefs translators
  • Day 5 PM: Edited strings & feedback received
  • Day 5 PM: In-house QA and admin

And there you have it! How long is a piece of string? We still don’t know, but maybe now you at least know where to cut it before release 🙂

If you’d like to get a quote for localization (a free, no obligation quote although that hardly needs saying) then just head over to our get a quote page 🙂 You never know, it might be cheaper than you think!


Robert Lo Bue

Rob is CEO of Applingua. With over a decade's experience, he is at the forefront of tech localization.