SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Glenn Rossman, Cynthia Dunlop

Related Topics: iPhone

iPhone: Blog Post

Apple's Siri Expansion Setting the Bar for Language Localization

Apple Is Stepping Up The Game Again

As of iOS 7, users could select over 30 different languages for system-wide use. Recent Apple job listings indicate that the company is trying to expand their Siri language offerings, with positions open for engineers for languages that are currently not supported by the Siri voice feature.

Language Career Listings

MacRumors first broke the news about the new Siri Language Engineer roles in June 2014. These were eye-catching listings because the job postings address ten languages that are not currently included in the Siri language support roster. The full list includes: Arabic, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Thai, Russian, Norwegian, Turkish, Brazilian, and Dutch. This is an extremely important development, opening the iOS system up for further international adoption and integration. Translating Siri is no easy task - according to the job listings, localization engineers will need to craft cloud services that respond to natural language use and speech synthesis. Engineers must take into account an enormous amount of variance so that Siri can adapt to dialect differences, colloquialisms, and other language complexities.

Increased Demand for Localization

These Siri language expansion efforts highlight the demand and need for localized digital content and functionality. According to statistics published by the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), about 65% of international enterprise organizations believe that language localization is a high priority. It's no surprise - global digital commerce drives success for companies across multiple industries, most notably in the fields of app development and gaming. As companies make their digital products more accessible internationally, they stand a chance of widening their audience and increasing their profit margins. Multi-language support also benefits domestic clientele - language preferences vary significantly within the United States alone.

Localization efforts convey a lot about a company. It demonstrates that a business is ready to take the next step at expanding its audience. With increased iOS and Siri language support, mobile users will expect apps and other digital content to be available in a multitude of languages. Making these translations available to an audience can significantly increase brand exposure for a company.

What Goes into Localization

Localization doesn't just mean that an organization translates content word-for-word. The reason why companies like Apple rely on native speakers is because localization efforts must be culturally accurate and relevant. Localization professional tailor content to meet the needs of their audiences. English-language etiquette and phrases sometimes can't be conveyed exactly in other languages. It's the job of translation professionals to work in this grey area to convert documents in a way that is meaningful to audiences.

Companies must learn how to take a comprehensive approach to their translation efforts. They can't simply offer webpage content in another language. Company leaders must also think about the complete user experience, translating website menus, user contracts, and every other aspect with localization support in mind. Omitting sections of documentation, app, or web presence can lead to serious usability and communication issues. Once a company decides to take steps to localization, be sure to take a comprehensive support approach. Like Apple's iOS language support efforts, translation should be implemented at all levels of a project.

Businesses across a diverse range of industries can benefit by opening their content up to international audiences. Localization efforts are being adopted by companies who wish to build stronger international relationships with clients. Apple's upcoming support with the Siri feature in iOS is just another example of how business must keep up with global audience demand.

More Stories By Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks is a writer, as well as a tech, social media and environmental enthusiast, living in San Francisco. He is a contributing writer at Forbes, Technorati and The Huffington Post.

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