Make Ubuntu speak your language

Human Touch-700px

It’s going to be one of the most exciting years in the history of Ubuntu. We’re seeing innovation and stunning work across the board, and a huge momentum and interest from OEMs and carriers to ship a phone with Ubuntu, with already a confirmed partner.

With our favourite OS expanding to yet another order of magnitude, every contribution is becoming even more important. And with phones shipping all over the globe, multilingual support and Ubuntu translators are going to be one of the keys to Ubuntu’s success.

In the same way you’ve helped us bring an excellent localized experience to the desktop throughout the years, we now need your help ensuring the phone reaches that level of excellence too. Once more, you can bring Ubuntu on phones to millions in their language.

To make it easier to focus on the most important parts, here’s a summary of the main Ubuntu components that can be translated in Launchpad, our collaborative translation tool.

And if you’re new to translating Ubuntu, you can also help! Check out our Translations Quickstart guide >

Unity and scopes

Unity is essentially Ubuntu’s UI, and version 8 is what is currently running on the phone and will ultimately run on all form factors once we achieve full convergence.

By translating Unity, the most visible user interface parts will appear in your language. Scopes are also part of Unity, and enable bringing content to users in a natural and organized way. The Click Update Manager is launched in the Applications scope when you install a new app.


Indicators are another Unity technology that enables quick access to system settings that you access every day, such as networking, location, sound, etc., as well as the messaging menu. Translating indicators will localize their menus when you swipe from the top edge.

Core and system apps

You can think of core and system apps as being the same thing: a set the essential apps every user would expect preinstalled on their devices. Translating core apps, you’ll make it possible to have a richer localized experience with clock, camera, weather, calculator and more.

Testing translations

With the addition of multiple supported form factors, testing is important not only to ensure that translations are correct, but also that they fit in UI components of different widths. So please double-check that long texts fit in in the smaller factors such as the phone.

Translation testing on a running phone or on the emulator deserves an article of its own, so please stay tuned for the next update coming soon.

Happy translating!

Image: Human touch, by David Planella, under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

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  • Nekhelesh Ramananthan

    I definitely do think that the next post about testing translations on the phone or an emulator deserves a spot in the tutorials section on This would make it also easier for the developer to frequently check if there are any untranslatable strings in the app. Looking forward to it.

    Btw, nice touch with the image showing 14.04 as the current time :)

    • Thanks Nekhelesh, indeed. And even before that it needs a tutorial on how to internationalize apps. I’ve scheduled a session for that on the next Ubuntu App Developer Week, so that’ll make sure we get some content before that. Yes, the image with the 14.04 took some fiddling. It was actually 15.04 at the time I took the picture, but then GIMP came to the rescue :)

  • Pingback: É hora de fazer o Ubuntu Touch falar sua língua | Ubuntero()

  • Translate to Russian :)

  • Guest

    is there no enter or submit button?

    • I’m guessing you’re asking about a submit button for translations in Launchpad. For each batch of translations on a page, there is a “Save & Continue” button at the bottom, which saves your translations (or translation suggestions).

      • Tjaldid

        yeah figured that and tried to delete the comment but Disqus never lets you do that they simply change the username to guest

  • Tjaldid

    When you say “Stats on welcome screen” do you mean stats/charts or status/notifications

    • Hi, it refers to the option in the System Settings app to enable/disable showing stats as infographics in the welcome/lock screen. E.g. how many pictures you’ve taken, how many songs you’ve played, etc.

  • To work we’ll go…. on unity we’ll focus. Translation team ready… Ubuntu will rock us.

    Sorry for the lame rhythm hehe

  • I’m sorry for the whole Ubuntu community where an enthusiast technical translator, i.e. me, is rejected from joining Launchpad translation team.

  • I am Translating Ubuntu into Sinhala (si_LK).. :)

  • António Miranda

    By the way…
    Does anyone know where the months/days are? (e.g. Jan, Fev/Monday, Tuesday) on Launchpad?

    I’ve been looking for ages…