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Apple's 50 Character Title Rule and Localization

Since we started applingua in December 2010, the number of apps on Apple’s App Store has exploded. We’ve all welcomed the diversity and quality of apps that have literally changed the world. Think Instagram, Uber and Tinder. Without Apple spearheading this movement, who knows if or when your favorite services would have been developed.

But over those six years, some corners of the App Store are full of apps dying a slow death. Many developers, including myself, have worked on an app in the past, enjoyed it at the time, learned from it, but then just ignored it, leaving it to rot. As time goes on, so do operating systems, eventually rendering your app obsolete, crashing on launch or just not running at all.

Apple announced yesterday it was time to clear up their Store. They will start reprocessing apps and if found to crash or no longer run on the latest devices, they’ll give developers 30 days to update. Apple will also try and reduce the amount of spammy apps, such as clones that try and steal hits from the intended search term app. Try searching for Instagram at the moment and you’ll see what they mean.

Finally, and most importantly for applingua, app names will now be limited to 50 characters. This is to avoid people adding SEO terms in their iTunes Connect app names.

What does this mean for localizing apps?

With app names limited to 50 characters, you will need to consider your app name when localizing. Some languages can be up to 30% longer than the original English.

Let’s look at an example

Tandem is an excellent app that lets you connect with other language learners and chat in each others’ respective languages. You can meet new people, video call them, do an hour in your language and then an hour in their language.

Their iTunes Connect app name is “Tandem - Language Exchange”. They’ve clarified what Tandem does in the title and in my opinion it works well. Their title is 28 characters, well below the 50 character maximum.

In other languages their name is:
FR: Tandem - Échange linguistique [29]
DE: Tandem - Gemeinsam Sprachen lernen [34]
IT: Tandem - Scambio di lingua [26]
PT: Tandem - Aprenda Idiomas grátis [31]
RU: Tandem: Языковой Обмен и Репетиторы [35]

As you can see, the length of their name varies depending on the language. Russian and German are often offenders. In this case we’re fortunate that all the localized names are below 50 characters and won’t need to be changed.

What to do if your localized name is more than 50 characters

If your localized name is more than 50 characters, we recommend the following:

  • Decide what’s most important in your name. Get rid of extra words that aren’t essential for translation.
  • Ask your translators to find another solution, in the Tandem name above there are several alternatives for the German name.
  • Ask your translators what works culturally. Some terms may mean something in the anglo world, but are just fodder in other languages.
  • Change the name of your app completely in different markets under advisement - potentially finding a more culturally relevant name.
  • You’re probably already doing this

It should be said that these title rules have been around for quite some time now among Apple’s review team. Yesterday’s announcement reminds us that they exist and perhaps the team will now be more absolutist when approving.

If you have any questions about your localized names, feel free to get in touch. We’d be happy to advise.

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