Multilanguage support in iOS 8

December 14, 2014

iOS 8 Has Arrived

iOS 8 is the mobile operating  system of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and was released on September 17, 2014. According to the Apple website, iOS 8 is actually the biggest release for developers since the introduction of Apple's App Store. This new version also boasts the smartest keyboard ever. The keyboard offers English and other enabled languages on the device, along with the ability to install a third party keyboard, which is a new feature available on iOS 8.

iOS 8 and Multiple Languages

ios8A highly anticipated new feature of iOS 8 is that applications are available in any language even the ones not yet supported by the Apple operating system. iOS 8 follows language codes (ISO-639), for example: Arabic (ar), Hebrew (he), Simplified Chinese (zh-Hans), etc...  As an example to show how iOS handles multiple languages, we are going to use Arabic to illustrate the different features available. iOS was one of the first Smart Operation Systems that supported the Arabic language. It has been supported since 2003 when iOS 3 was introduced.


Setting the Default Language

First, to set your default language:

Select the Settings icon > General > Language & Region > iPhone Language.

Then, select your default device language from the languages list.



Adding Language(s) and Preferred Language Order

Next, to add more languages and set their order: (Browsers and Mobile Applications will display menus and commands based on the default language selected in the first step).

Select the Settings icon > General > Language & Regions > Add language: select Arabic.


An important new feature is the Preferred Language Order. Before iOS 8, the default language was the only language option for installed applications, such as Facebook and Twitter. Many users prefer to use English as the device's main language for menus and commands, but wish to display their applications in their native language. iOS 8 allows this option through Preferred Language Order.


Date & Currency Formats

Select the Settings icon > General > Language & Region > Region: users can select the preferred numbers, date and currency formats based on a selected region and calendar.


Following the above simple steps, iOS devices should be able to display multiple languages correctly, along with your preferred format based on your language, region and calendar selection.


Typing Right to Left Using iOS Smart Keyboard

To access iOS keyboard features, select the Settings icons > General > Keyboard. All Keyboard related features will be listed:


The above screen shows the following settings:

-     Keyboards: shows number of active keyboards based on enabled languages.

-     Shortcuts: add or edit shortcuts in target language.

-     Auto-Correction: enable/disable auto-correction based on the current selected language.

-     The English section lists a set of typing features available only for the current default language, such as check spelling and auto-capitalization.

Since the release of iOS 8, Apple has enabled applications developers to create extensions for the current iOS applications for example, a translation plugin for Safari browser, which was not possible with the previous versions. This new approach opens great opportunities for better localized applications designed for iOS.

Further GPI Resources on Localization and Internationalization

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has developed a suite of globalization tools to help clients effectively internationalize and localize their mobile applications. You can explore them under the Tools sections of our Translation Services GPI offers internationalization and globalization consulting services and can evaluate your application. By partnering with GPI before you localize or translate your application, you may avoid many mistakes and save considerable time and money on your next localization projects.

For more information about mobile application translation and localization, please check our services and blogs:

For more information or help with you next mobile localization or website translation project, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail at, by phone at (866) 272-5874, or by requesting a free translation quote on your next website translation project.

Software Translation
Apple, iOS 8, iPhone, keyboard, language, languages, Arabic, Multiple Languages

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Ayman is a native Arabic speaker with extensive expertise in Arabic software and website localization. He is a Microsoft Certified professional (MCP) since 2001 and earned several certificates including MCSD, MCAD, MCTS and MCPD. He has over 12 years’ experience in software / websites engineering using Microsoft Programming tools including C#, ASP.NET, SQL Server, Visual Studio and other tools such as HTML, JavaScript, XML, Ajax and others.