A Guide to Localizing an iOS App For Less Than $2

Jan 25, 2024

I just translated my iOS app into 5 different languages for less than $2.

Are you looking to localize your iOS app, but don't want to spend a bunch of money doing it? Cool. You're in luck, because a script I wrote, powered by OpenAI, can make this process super easy and cheap for you.

Why Localization is Crucial for Your iOS App

Localizing your app is a key step in reaching a wider audience. By translating your app into multiple languages, you're not just expanding your user base; you're also able to enter app stores with potentially less competition for your ideal user. This strategy can really increase your app's visibility and user engagement, especially for iPhone users searching for apps in their language. The goal of any app developer should be to ensure that their product is accessible and user-friendly to a global audience, and localization can play a big role in achieving this.

Unfortunately, localization options can be quite expensive, running up to hundreds of dollars per language, and can cost a lot more if you've got a lot of strings. This might not be a great option for independent developers or small businesses. Fortunately, there's an AI alternative!

Harnessing the Power of Machine Translation

With advancements in AI, automatic localization of an iOS app can be done with just a few commands on the command line. Machine translation has improved significantly, especially when the entire context is provided. This makes it a viable option for app localization.

Your Guide to Affordable iOS App Localization

Here's how you can localize your iOS app swiftly using my script and an OpenAI API key:

Use Xcode's .xcstrings Format: Make sure you're using Xcode's new .xcstrings format for your localizations, as announced at WWDC 2023. This modern strings format integrates a built-in UI for easy modifications.

Haven't switched yet? Migrating from Localizable.strings files is straightforward. Learn how here: WWDC 2023 Session.

Clone the GPT-Localize-iOS Project: Visit GPT-Localize-iOS and clone the project. You'll need an OpenAI API key, which you can obtain here.

Set Up and Use the GPT-Localize-iOS Script:

In order for this to work best, you should add comments to each localization key for better translation outcomes. This will help GPT-4 to understand what it's translating and where the string appears.

First, you need to get an OpenAI API key here. Then, set the API key as an environment variable OPENAI_API_KEY or enter it when prompted by the script.

I recommend using a virtual environment (venv or virtualenv) for dependency isolation. Install the dependencies with pip install -r requirements.txt.

Run the script with Python 3.x. Here's how you would translate an xcstrings file from English to Spanish:

python3 translate_strings.py \
--input-file=path/to/your/file.xcstrings \
--target-language-code=es \

You'll see how much it will cost you and the progress right in the command line. Check out the Readme for more flags and options for using this script.

Disclaimer: The tool uses OpenAI's API and may incur costs. Check OpenAI pricing for details.

Go Global with Confidence

With this approach, you're not just translating; you're localizing your iOS app with precision and cultural relevance, essential for engaging a global audience. Taking advantage of Xcode's new localization features and combining them with advanced AI will give you the opportunity to expand your app's reach without breaking the bank.

Viel Spaß and happy coding as you take your iOS app to new heights and markets!!