OneSky’s Platform Makes Translating Apps Easy

App translation and localization service OneSky‘s best-known clients include Scribd and QuizUp. With so many app translation providers out there, however, how does OneSky differentiate? Co-founder Loki Ng says the startup, which is based in Hong Kong and will open a San Francisco office soon, gives clients an easier workflow by providing a translation management platform that lets app developers and professional human translators connect without having to exchange countless emails.

Android and iOS developers are provided with an SDK¬†that they can plug into their app with four or five lines of code, which allows them to take screenshots and tag all phrases they need translated. Then they upload the screen shots to OneSky’s platform for translators to reference. While translators are working, they can see exactly how the phrase will be displayed, giving them a better idea of how it fits into the context of the app.

OneSky supports more than 30 popular file formats for iOS and Android apps, so developers don’t have to convert technical files into Excel documents in order to for translators to access written content.

“They can just upload technical files and we can parse all the files for them and make sure that our translations will not crash their files,” says Ng. “Then they can download the translated files after that. We can help them do validations so they can even hook up the API to automate the whole process, so the engineering team can forget about the translation process after the integration.”

QuizUp translated into Spanish by OneSky

QuizUp translated into Spanish by OneSky

Another feature that helps simplify the workflow for developers is OneSky’s support for Google Play, Amazon’s Appstore, and the iOS App Store. For the latter, OneSky’s system automatically downloads an app’s description from iTunes. Translators can then use OneSky’s platform to make sure that the translated version of the description will fit within iTunes strict character limits.

Ng says that most translations are available within a day if they are 2,000 words or less.

OneSky is currently working on a new feature that will help clients do on-device testing. Translators will have the particular device an app is meant for, like an iPhone or Android tablet, so they can use the app and check for any problems or awkward translations. If they spot any issues, they update the translation on OneSky’s platform. Clients will be notified immediately so they can download the most updated files for their app.

OneSky currently has 2,000 translators, who it found by asking local translation agencies for referrals. Then they ask applicants to complete a test. All translators must live in countries where their target language is a main or official language, so OneSky looks at their IP addresses to make sure they are based where they say they are. The company also does random spot checks to weed out translators who deliver poor quality work.

Most of OneSky’s clients are from Europe or the U.S. who have developed apps originally in western European languages like English, French, German, and Spanish. Most are targeting expansion to other European countries. OneSky also works with game publishing company Yodo1 in China to help developers enter that country, since it can be a difficult market to tackle without a local partner.

The company monetizes by charging about 10 to 13 cents per word. OneSky is currently working on a feature called OneSky Academy, or a series of articles that will give developers tips on how to localize apps for different markets, and plans to seek funding by the end of this year or next year, depending on how fast the company grows, says Ng.

Photo by Flickr user Andrew Fysh used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.