This is regarding android application.

As per my analysis, the translation from Google translate is not perfect.

Will it be ok show non-english users a dialog with the following content:

This application has been translated by using Google Translate and hence could have translation issues. If you see translation problems in your language, please switch to English locale on your device. If possible, help us in fixing language translation problems noticed by you

This question is from the perspective to quality and usability of app by non-english speakers who have set the locale as non-english on their android device.

I am considering automated translation as I am running short of funds for manual translation

  • Maybe you could add a link to a website where you make it possible for your users to improve the translation?
    – phw
    Aug 12, 2013 at 18:34

4 Answers 4


You may not be aware of it, if your machines are localized to English, but there is a prominent example for doing just that: Microsoft. The way they do it might give you some ideas.

I live and work in Germany, and my work computer has a de-de localized Windows and a DeNIC IP. When I visit a Microsoft KB article, I automatically get a machine-translated version of the English article. I don't know if you can get to it without using a localized Windows and/or a foreign IP (although I hope that the IP will not be important). Here screenshots of what it looks like (yellow marks in the first pictures are mine):

screenshot normal

The above is a picture of what I get to see when I visit the page. There is a disclaimer that I am reading a machine-created translation, and a link to a page which looks like it will contain some explanation/apology, but in fact contains an appeal to the users to improve the translation if they notice errors, with short help texts hidden behind a navigation menu. The link goes to http://support.microsoft.com/gp/machine-translation-corrections which I assume will be available independently of your localization.

I have no idea why the language selector is preset at United States (English) despite the page being displayed in German. I find this confusing. Actually opening it and clicking on United States again shows the actual article in English, but other parts of the page, such as the "Wichtiger Hinweis" (important notice) stay in German. I find this confusing too.

When I hover over a paragraph with my mouse, it gets highlighted, and I see a tooltip with the original text and a clear possibility to improve it. (The subdued yellow rectangle on the following screenshot is part of their UI, not something I marked). microsoft screenshot highlighted

These are some ideas how you can do it - if you decide to do it at all. It may be better to not offer a localization of inferior quality until you can provide a usable localization. I think that your target demographic can be split into roughly three groups: People who can and want to use the English original even if a good localization is available, people who could use English but prefer a localization to their native or everyday language, and people who do not know enough English to use a non-localized version.

I belong to the first group, and I can tell you that the availability of a machine translation offers me no benefit. If I can chose this version in the settings, I will never do so. If you preset it for me based on location or something else, I will probably go to the settings to change it to English, and on my way there will notice the quality of the translation and make unfavorable conclusions about the overall quality of the application.

The second group will probably not benefit from the machine translation either. They choose the localization because it is more comfortable for them to read swiftly in a language they know well than to try to parse a language they are not so good in. If you give them a machine translated localization, there is no option for swift, pleasant reading, they have to choose between two equally challenging options, one of which (machine translation) can cause resentment, because 1) it creates expectations it does not fulfill (which is the mechanism which ulitmately creates all dissatisfaction in consumers), and 2) nobody likes to see their native language mangled.

The third group, who does not speak English, will benefit from the presence of a machine translation - if they have to use the application at all. If you are a monopolist, this is a good thing to offer them. If you are trying to gather a user base and hope that localization will enable you to penetrate a foreign market, I don't think that machine translation will be of any use to you. As soon as you have a local competitor, the bad localization quality will be a large competetive advantage for him, and you will probably get bad reputation on this market.

So, depending on your goals, it may make more sense to schedule localizations for a later release, when there are ressources to do it properly. If you prefer to (or have to) do it now, no matter how bad the quality, Microsoft's example may help you with ideas.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot. You made it clear that I should maintain the quality I am offering through my android application.
    – Sandeep
    Aug 13, 2013 at 12:26
  • +1 for "nobody likes to see their native language mangled."
    – kmonsoor
    Dec 17, 2013 at 15:59

Just a reminder: eventually your disclaimer need to be translated ;)

If the user can read the disclaimer, the translation is probably not needed. Otherwise, I think the translation will likely to cause confusion since local user did not realize the word is automatically translated (e.g. from a badly translated words/phrases)

Back to your question... I do not know the nature of the application other than it being an Android application (i.e. mobile).

For me, unless you really have no other choice, I do not recommend Google translate for automatic translation for following reason

  1. It is unprofessional.
  2. It is likely to give rise to many errors due to badly translated words/phrases - worse: a mixture of correct and wrong translations is a recipe of disaster.
  3. Feature bloat that gives little or no value (if the translation is so important, you will find a better way)
  4. Good luck handling support request written in _ (put any exotic language here)

Eventually it boils down to the simple question of how much value a well translated application will bring to the users... and how much cost a badly translated application will bring?

  • 1
    Great answer. "Never use automated translations, unless you are familiar with the target language."
    – bouke
    Aug 13, 2013 at 8:42

I would try to limit the use of Google translation to either words or very short phrases, as in my opinion this is where Google translate is most useful. For longer sentences, unless the structure is very simple and the meaning is unambiguous, there is not much point providing Google Translate because the user will not be able to understand it anyway. If you want to maintain a consistent brand/image of being professional then it would not be a good idea. There are other ways to get translation done without spending a lot of money and you should explore other options before just going with the easiest solution to implement.

  • Could you please share some ways to get the translation. I know of websites like icanlocalize, crowdin and hiring freelancer from odesk/elance. Any other way to get large amount of text (50000 strings) translated to multiple languages (13-14)
    – Sandeep
    Aug 13, 2013 at 3:34
  • babelfish.com is another website
    – Michael Lai
    Aug 13, 2013 at 4:04

This should be alright. It's not the perfect solution, but in this situation it should be more than acceptable.

Maybe include link to Google Translate and a link to provide the feedback... and drop the word "hence" ;)

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