New Google translation service overview

Google announced at I/O a few weeks back that it is launching a new app translation service for the Google Play developer console. This is a good strategic move to get more internationality into the app store, yet upon second look there are some problematic aspects with the approach Google has chosen to follow. I want to outline here which aspects these are and why it is that we find them to be rather problematic.

The new service is meant to allow developers working on apps for the Android platform to simply select a language, pay for the app translation and submit it, receiving it sometime later finished and translated, according to the announcement and presentation. The way they have implemented the service is by providing an interface to a popular crowd-translation platform from out of the developer console.

The potential issues

While crowds can do many astonishing things, we don’t think web or mobile app translation is the best application for it. As some translators have pointed out to us, the quality on most crowd translation platforms is sub-par, mainly because the payment is far too low for professional translators to register there - including the ones (currently 5) Google chose to team up with. The result is an anonymous crowd of novices, with little or no quality assurance processes in place.

What’s problematic is the price-dumping, which further manifests the low-price attitude to translations in the market for professional language services and the lack of quality enforcement in this area. The goal should be more quality, not less - and better professional services, not more anonymous crowds.

In many ways, language services through such approaches are degraded to click-working, which by far undervalues the great linguistic skills that would be at the developers’ disposal. Wouldn’t it be better to know who is doing the translations, to know the quality level you will be receiving, and to pay an appropriate price for what is essentially your ticket to reaching a global target audience? Why not get the most out of client-customer communication, product context, and cultural know-how? In business, most relationships are based on trust and contracts, so why not in translation?

machine translation

While Google Translate is one of the greater advances in machine translation (big data is king here) the web world has seen in the last few years (it makes daily life easier, not just for professionals), and Google makes laudable efforts at internationalizing their products, this latest move might also cement the perception that even Google does not consider localization a quality aspect of product development. It shows that much has changed in the industry: localization is looked at as an annoying little task best outsourced.

Product managers consider it something to ‘get over with’, and there is often little patience in managing the language and culture processes of product development. This needs to change. The world and the perception toward language services have to change, too. You love your products, and so should your customers, no matter where they are or, which language they speak, what cultural group they belong to or which social preferences they have. This requires a stronger commitment to quality and an awareness for localization as an essential step in product development.

Here is what we propose

Localization requires human professionals, at least experts in their own culture and with the linguistic know-how to transport the information conveyed in your product into a different language and culture. Because the customer is king, and anything else makes little sense, you do not want the localized versions of your product to be any worse than the “original” product (localized versions of your product should not be received as cheap knock-offs). To get the best results, and to tap into millions of additional customers world-wide, you need quality app translation by professionals you can put a face and a name to.

Trust is the most important thing in a business where you yourself cannot possibly verify the results of (if you could, you wouldn’t need it). Trust can only be built through strong brands, human relationships, and/or mechanisms that ensure collaboration on a level that encourages quality services, repeat contracting, smooth transactions and happy business partners. In short, you need to be able to pick the service providers (by name, skill, rating, recommendation, etc.). An anonymous crowd you don’t know, or a middleman promising you results, is not the way to  move this industry forward, it would merely cement the status quo.

We believe in building a solution that brings supply and demand together on one platform so hassle-free localization can become a reality. One where overhead costs are cut to a minimum and you get to know the people who deliver your translations. Collaboration takes place in teams, and teams are not crowds. If the good translation is worth so little to you that you want to “outsource” it, give it away, or have someone else deal with it “for you”, then you should question your strategy towards approaching your best friend: the customer.

Order translations with Lingohub

If you have no time to find professional experts who will localize your business in accordance with the high standards - Lingohub is always here to support you.

Unlike hiring an external agency/people, Lingohub provides full context sharing with our translators, namely style guides, project descriptions, segment descriptions, term base + quality checks. Providing context is extremely important during localization, and this is what allows you to personalize the content.

If you want to learn more about Lingohub and how you can raise the localization quality with us - schedule a quick demo with our team.

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