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Linguistic Testing for Mobile Devices

Linguistic testers check both the accuracy and cultural context of translations

Whether you’re playing a mobile video game, using an app or navigating the settings on your cell phone, language is integral to your understanding and enjoyment of the software. While most organizations take the time to test all functional aspects of a program, devoting similar resources to localization testing is essential for your users’ satisfaction. Discover Lionbridge’s top-tier, in-market strategies for localization quality assurance for mobile devices.

What is Linguistic Testing?

Linguistic testing is the process of checking the accuracy of the display and functionality for strings of words on different devices. Beyond ensuring that the translation is literally correct, testers must consider how the words appear on the screen: Are they readable? Are any words cut off or illegible due to a mistake in the code?

Linguistic testers may also complete localization testing or checking the accuracy of the text against certain cultural or regional contexts.

“Localization means you have to create the correct translation, but you also have to think about the local market for the program,” says Steffen Strohmann, who manages Lionbridge localization and functionality game testers in San José, Costa Rica and Boise, Idaho.

Localization testers live within or near the market for the program, meaning that they will be familiar with any differences in the local language that needs to be considered. Spanish speakers in Latin America, for example, may have different slang or idioms than Spanish speakers in Spain.

"Localization means you have to create the correct translation, but you also have to think about the local market for the program."

What Does Linguistic Testing Involve?

Once the text in a mobile game, app or program has been translated, linguistic testers receive the translation and are able to check its accuracy in a variety of ways.

Neo Guo, a Lionbridge Technical Services Senior Team Lead in Jinan, China, says linguistic testing for mobile can take place in one of two ways. In test case mode, linguistic testers work on the actual devices or on a simulated device and report any bugs. In screenshot mode, testers receive screen captures of the software or app, then review the screenshots separately and report bugs. Whether in test case mode or screenshot mode, testers then complete regression testing, where they ensure that any reported bugs are fixed.

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What Makes Linguistic Testing Different on Mobile Devices?

Although linguistic testing is fairly similar across all devices, mobile apps or games may produce unique challenges in linguistic, localization and functional testing.

According to Guo, mobile apps offer a wider scope of options in interacting with users, such as tapping, swiping, pulling and pinching. Beyond touch controls, testers also need to check that voice assistants can accurately interact with the software. The sheer range of mobile devices also poses a challenge to testers: Testers working with mobile applications need to test the software on a variety of mobile devices. They also test other devices that may interact with a mobile phone, like smart pens, watches or even photo frames.

Since mobile devices typically have much smaller screens than desktop computers or laptops, a common issue tester look for is the truncation of a line of text. Often, translated text needs to be shortened to fit on a smaller screen: A simple expression in English, for example, might take up twice as much space in German.

“More concise translations are required for strings in mobile apps,” says Guo. “In the linguistic testing report, these shorter translations should be provided to fix truncation bugs.”

A person writing on a tablet and looking at a phone

Why is Linguistic Testing on Mobile Important?

Imagine opening up an app on your phone, and realizing part of the text has been cut off. These errors can cause frustration to mobile users and possibly impact sales. By providing adequate time and resources to conduct localization quality assurance, companies can ensure all errors are caught before the mobile device or app goes to market.

Strohmann often sees companies cutting costs or shortening timelines for localization quality assurance, which he discourages against. Because flaws in coding can affect linguistic testing, he advocates for companies to start localization quality assurance earlier in the process to allow adequate time for bugs to be fixed.

What Sets Lionbridge Apart?

Lionbridge’s follow-the-sun approach means we have testing facilities worldwide, from Montreal, Canada or San José, Costa Rica, to Warsaw, Poland and Berlin, Germany, as well as in Beijing, China and Tokyo, Japan. These capabilities ensure that in-region testers can work on a program, and that testing teams can scale up or down as needed to meet deadlines.

Guo says that Lionbridge also helps customers optimize their own localization processes, by offering suggestions for testing methods and platforms. Lionbridge clients are thus able to save costs while preserving high standards for localization, and constantly improve their own testing processes.

Want to learn more about Lionbridge’s localization testing capabilities? Contact us today.

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Christy Kuesel
Christy Kuesel