Boxcryptor for iOS and macOS Now Available in German
From now on, Boxcryptor is available in English and German on all platforms. We know that this is long overdue, but from now on, German speaking macOS and iOS users can work with Boxcryptor in their mother tongue as well. This sounds like strange news from a German company and we would not be surprised if some of you asked: Why not earlier? In fact, there are two answers to this questions, which we will provide in this article. Additionally, we offer a peak behind the scenes on how we approached the translation of iOS and macOS.
One thing upfront: Unfortunately, it is not as simple as on other platforms, to provide software in several languages on macOS and iOS. The other important point is that we always want to provide our users with the best possible and most stable version of Boxcryptor with all necessary features, as fast as possible. In competition against important features and necessary updates, language kind of always came out on the short end and threatened to get lost on our roadmap. There have always been other issues that needed fixing, or other features that were worth implementing. So we postponed the language issue again and again.
But since we are a German company, we figured that it is now about time to get our hands dirty on this challenge and to invest some developing time and effort.
Why is Translation on Apple Platforms so Hard?
As in many things, Apple is wired differently than other platforms in terms of language. Translations are not stored in one file (a lookup table), but instead, in many different files with potentially different formats. Additionally, Apple does not really like it when we change texts in the developer language, in our case, when we adapt or update our English translation in an external tool. The problem is, we use POEditor to manage translations and texts in all available languages cross-platform in the software. However, in short: with some trickery, we managed to adapt the workflow given by Apple to our own.
Another challenge was the sheer amount of texts that accumulated over the years in two fully developed pieces of software such as our Boxcryptor for iOS and for macOS. It is not just about the menu and settings – help messages, tips and error messages have to be translated as well.
The Process of Translating our iOS and macOS Apps: From Manual Labor to Battering Problems with Technology
First, we had to find out which strings (texts in the code) we want to localize and mark for translation. This is a lot of work with our 13.700 strings in our code base of Boxcryptor for iOS and macOS alone. Afterwards, we had to merge existing translations – for example in other platforms such as Windows and Android – with translations in iOS and macOS.
The keyword here is automation. To handle all this in a reasonable amount of time, we battered the problems with technology. We wrote our own scripts in order to not having to sift through and match all strings manually. This is a great example of a case, where a program is way faster and more reliable than the human brain.
In the end, there were 978 text elements that we localized in our Apple code base and that needed translation. Around half of them were translated in one long session by the team. The rest was already translated in another platform and we were able to just adopt them for iOS and macOS.
Et voilà, the result is that macOS and iOS are finally available in German. If the system language on your phone or Mac is set to German, the language in Boxcryptor will be switched automatically.