Differentiating Between Internationalization And Localization Of An App

App Localization and Internationalization

In the context of mobile app development, the terms ‘internationalization’ and ‘localization’ may seem to be interchangeable. However, these two concepts are not the same; they tend to complement each other. The software development process involves both internationalization and localization, and the outlook should not be to prioritize one of these over the other. 

Internationalization and localization have some differences between them. In this post, you will get to know about these differences, besides understanding how they are important. Besides, we will explain how internationalization and localization can complement each other, working together to leverage your software in a variety of cultures, markets, languages and target groups.

Internationalization and Localization: Explained


‘Internationalization’ is a term referring to all the processes and practices to develop and design an app to foster seamless localization. An app, when internationalized, can be localized with greater ease and efficiency.

Please note, internationalization is not a separate process altogether in the development and designing process of your app. At each stage of app development, it should be considered to be a fundamental aspect. Internationalization involves following the development and design practices that can prepare your app for localization.


Localization refers to the mechanism of adapting your app in order to fulfil the cultural, linguistic, legal and other relevant requirements of a particular demography. When you localize your app, you integrate the software with certain features that will help you sell your offerings in the particular demography. In a nutshell, your software would get the desired feel and look to live up to the aspirations of the target users in a certain zone. Through localization testing, you can understand the extent to which the features in your app have been localized.

The process of localization involves extracting all the constituents of a product that are viable to the users. This process is followed by incorporating locale-specific components, along with the translation of text. When you succeed in localizing your app, you can penetrate the global market without making any compromise with the qualitative aspects.

How to Carry Out Internationalization in Your App?

  • Internationalization essentially involves removing and changing the hardwiring in order to make the application culture and language-neutral. The term ‘i18n’ is also used to denote internationalization.
  • Software engineers and developers carry out the process of internationalization, ensuring that the software is localizable.
  • In certain cases, the initial product launch or design may come in the native English language. Through internationalization, you can make it adaptable to other cultures or languages. This would help you to expand your market later on.
  • Internationalization, rather than hardcoding each of the individual languages, prepares the app’s codebase to receive various configurations. These are based on one or more target languages. Key placeholders are used to replace the code. When you localize the app, it automatically retrieves each of the target languages. It does not need any major change in engineering.
  • In internationalization, the developers do not code the software for the desired language. They use keys to replace the codes. In the process, the app becomes ready for localization. Besides, the codes become neutralized and the app is able to adapt to different languages.
  • Internationalization involves optimizing the code language, organizing the source code and enabling cultural formatting. This encompasses text formatting, personal information, time zones and number formats.

How to Carry Out Localization in Your App?

  • Localization, also referred to as ‘L10n’, can be defined as the culmination of internationalization. In simple words, it is the process through which software developers and engineers adapt an app for a fresh or local market.
  • During the process of localization, the developers modify the software or application in such a way that it fulfils the cultural, stylistic and linguistic requirements of a locale or region.
  • The process of localization involves carrying out linguistic translations for the main text of the app.
  • The user interface of your app also needs to be customized to make them suitable for each locale.
  • Some features are added to the app, while others are eliminated. Considering the target market, certain features may have to be prohibited as well.
  • Localization also involves translating the product copy to make it applicable to supporting documents and store listings.

Why are both Internationalization and Localization Necessary in App Development?

When you try to optimize your mobile application or software for different countries and locales, you need to focus on both internationalization and localization. The objective should not be to counter one of these concepts with the other, but to complement each other. By blending localization and internationalization, it becomes easy to transform the application for the global market. Ultimately, every business would try to tap the global market, which holds the maximum potential for them.

Most companies stumble while dealing with market segmentation. Given that as many as 95% of the new software launches are likely to fail in any particular year, you need to prioritize market segmentation. In this context, you need to focus on localization and internationalization. This explains the importance of localization testing, which reputed service providers specialize in.

Have a look at some of the key fundamentals for the best practices of market segmentation:

  • During the process of localization, make sure not to overlook culture. This aspect has to be taken into account, along with other aspects like gender discrimination and racial inclusion.
  • While you might be counting on auto-translating, or other similar features offered by Google, it may not help you in localizing your app. These are fine when in-app texts are translated. However, when you consider the quality of the text that native speakers expect, translating software would fall short of satisfying them. You need to closely coordinate with representatives in the area you want to target.
  • Pay attention to dates, times and numbers as well. Often, the small details get overlooked, leading to complications. Even when the same language is spoken in two countries, such as in Spain and Mexico, the date-formatting would be different. Leading brands like Apple have come up with special APIs for iOS app development. This makes it easy for them to correct the dates when they localize these features.
  • It might be difficult to translate the meanings that graphics and images carry. Due to globalization, developers and marketers are encountering a cultural bar as far as graphic design is concerned. For instance, body language or gestures that may seem to be harmless in one country may happen to be disrespectful or inappropriate in another.

No wonder, why businesses hire professionals for localization testing for their web and mobile applications. With a professional approach, you can easily market your products or services in new demographics, integrating your app with the necessary features. Perfectly complementing each other internationalization and localization create products that enhance the value for end-users.



About the Author

QA InfoTech

QA InfoTech

Established in 2003, with less than five testing experts, QA InfoTech has grown leaps and bounds with three QA Centers of Excellence globally; two of which are located in the hub of IT activity in India, Noida, and the other, our affiliate QA InfoTech Inc Michigan USA. In 2010 and 2011, QA InfoTech has been ranked in the top 100 places to work for in India.

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