What a busy month September was for developers! With the launch of Apple’s iPhone 7, 2nd series of Apple Watch, macOS Sierra and iOS 10, localization and internationalization updates from our clients have been coming thick and fast.
Since iOS 10’s announcement at WWDC ’16, we’ve been tracking Apple’s internationalisation advancements in their latest operating system. During the conference in June, Apple showcased the steps it has taken for iOS to better support and further localise right to left languages. And from this September’s launch event, it seems Apple has further refined the localized user experience.
Here is a round up the 8 best internationalization changes we could find in iOS 10.
(1) No More Missing Strings (hopefully!)
This has to be the number 1 update for us.
Apple have now built in a “Missing Localizability” check into Static Analyzer which automatically tells you if a string has gone untranslated. They’ve also added “Missing Localization Context Comment”, which, depending on how often you feel strings need to be commented, could also be useful. Seconds before release, there’s nothing worse than reimporting translated strings and then realising several are missing and having to wait again for your translators. By enabling these features, those pesky strings that always go unnoticed should be a thing of the past.
(2) Preferred Localization
The world’s languages and cultures are large in number and extremely varied. Even English speaking countries don’t share the same culture and language – think about the huge differences between British and American English. This means apps can be localized to a very high level, targeting specifically a US or a UK audience. However, what if an app isn’t available in the preferred localized language?
This is where Apple’s new preferredLocalizations bundle comes in. Let’s imagine your app has been localized for European Spanish and Latin American Spanish. Juan, however, is Argentine and he prefers to use Argentine Spanish. Now with the preferredLocalizations bundle, languages can be organized into a hierarchy, letting them revert to the most appropriate variant for the user. In Juan’s case, that would be Latin American Spanish – not European Spanish.
This feature is going to be particularly useful around Asia, where Hongkongers prefer British English but Japanese and Korean users prefer US English.
(3) Dual Language Support Keyboard
It seems Apple has heard the cries from all bilingual users out there and finally made a single keyboard which supports more than one language. Previously you had to toggle the globe button to switch from keyboard to keyboard. This was particularly annoying if you had autocorrect on, as you couldn’t get away with not changing the keyboards. Now using this simple hack, you can enable dual language support for a single keyboard.
As the staff at Applingua are all multilingual, this our top user-facing internationalization feature and we’re super happy to see this update in iOS 10.
(4) Getting The Order Right
The way things have been with formatters is that in languages like Chinese names, surnames and even numbers have come out the wrong way round. In Hungary and China, for example, the surname name comes first, followed by the surname. And in a number of countries the time is displayed pm9 rather than 9pm.
Getting this right has now just been miles easier with the new NSPersonNameComponentsFormatter. This will automatically display the format in the correct order. So now more confusion with surnames, names and times!
(5) Converting Measurement Values
Apple has introduced the new NSMeasurementFormatter for iOS 10. This will automatically convert values into your preferred measurements. So you no longer have to worry about being given prices in US dollars when you need them in pounds or weight ounces when you need them in kilograms. What’s really amazing about this feature is that it’s based entirely on your locale. So you don’t even have to tell it which measurements to use, it will just figure it out itself.
(6) How Many Numbers?
We often think of numbers being universally 1, 2, 3 etc, but actually there are many number sets out there, including Arabic and Hindi. When making a phone call or telling a friend what time you made dinner reservations for these number pads are really useful and another great example of localization. However, there are times when using ASCII number is necessary. For example, when entering bank account details or using a credit card to reserve flights. However, now you can specify ASCII numbers when you need to enforce them by using the UIKeyboardTypeNumberPad.
(7) Fairer Emojis
Apple has updated its emojis to make them more representative of the world. They now include gender diverse emojis, single parent emojis as well as LGBT+ emojis.
(8) Latin American Spanish Support
At long last iOS now supports Latin American Spanish. So far it had only supported European Spanish and Mexican Spanish. One of the obvious challenges here is to account for all the various versions of Spanish that are available in the Americas, let alone across the world. But despite that, this is a step in the right direction. Latin American users can now enable Spanish (Latin America) on their keyboard, where it will now recognise carro for in “car” instead of coche.
So there you have it, the 8 top internationalization changes for iOS 10. Localization and internationalization is an ongoing challenge and maybe one day we’ll reach localization max, but for now there’s plenty of work already done and plenty yet to be done. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Apple Music and iTunes currently supports a limited number of languages and we’d really like to see this grow.