Interview: How Floating Apps achieved millions of downloads

In this interview, the founder and CEO of Localazy, Václav Hodek, shares his past experience as a freelance developer, the reasons that led him to the founding of a new translation management platform, and how Localazy helped his project Floating Apps enter new markets and hit over 10 million downloads.

🤝 Introduction 🔗

Hi, Václav, please tell our readers something about yourself and your journey.

Hello, being somewhere between developer and entrepreneur, I ran my own software studio with 10 developers for a couple of years.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We had to meet deadlines and stay within a tight budget, but sometimes, there wasn’t enough time and money to do things the right way. In those ten years, I saw a lot of stupid ideas or great ideas with stupid execution and decisions behind them.

I had to leave and I had to shut down a profitable company after all the effort because I was no longer able to do it, I felt burnt-out and couldn’t continue in the high-stress business.

For quite some time, I had nothing to do, so I started to play a bit with my old hobby app - Floating Apps. And grew it to be the best one of its kind in the world.

What exactly is the app Floating Apps about? What is the purpose?

Floating Apps is a set of useful mini-apps that are displayed over other apps on your Android device. It unlocks full multitasking potential as you no longer need to leave the current task for something small.

In a way, it turns Android into Windows 😃.

Of course, due to the limitations of the Android platform, it’s not all-powerful. But it’s great to e.g. open email attachments without leaving the email app, watch YouTube videos while playing games, or do fast calculations with the floating calculator… There are about 40 different mini-apps, so it’s like a Swiss knife for Android multitasking.

Who are the users of Floating Apps?

Floating Apps is aimed at advanced Android users. If you use your phone for more than making voice calls (and who doesn’t nowadays), Floating Apps can be a great little helper for you. It just sits idle ready to assist you when needed. Next time you switch from one app to another and then back, you should install it.

The app now has more than 10 million downloads from all over the world, and it’s not exactly aimed at a specific group of people, everyone can find his way to utilize the app to fit his needs.

Floating Apps Screenshots

📈 Rapid growth with Localazy 🔗

Do you think that localization was the most important factor of your success?

Floating Apps started as a hobby project and it skyrocketed to millions of downloads because I did a few things right. I wasn’t hesitant to invest money for some initial promotion to get traction. I was always willing to help users, listen to them and answer their questions and comments.

But one of the most important things for such explosive growth of the user base was the localization to more languages. It helped me to grow rapidly in Asia.

Japan quickly became the second-largest market for the paid version of the app. Korea is a very strong market for paid apps too.

India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other countries generated millions of downloads of the free version.

Why did you decide to invest time into building Localazy and didn’t use available translation management solutions? What features are important to you?

I tried several different solutions before founding Localazy, but I was very disappointed as none of them matched my workflow. While I loved to add new features to make my app better, I was always almost scared to add new texts as it also meant I had to translate them.

I wanted to achieve the best available translation quality, so I checked the translations myself. It’s necessary also because while there are a lot of users that were helping me with translating the app, some of them were spoiling translations on purpose.

Several key features of Localazy are extremely important for me:

  1. Great management of collaborators allows me to identify the good and bad ones and treat them accordingly.
  2. The awesome review process helps me to achieve quality translation and also to identify invalid ones. I was able to spend 2-3 months with code and improving Floating Apps and still was able to see all changes made by translators.
  3. Thanks to the integration, automation, and OTA updates, I no longer need to postpone new releases because they are not completely translated yet.
  4. No final translations approach - my users can keep improving even the existing translations and I can review all changes through the review process. This is very important as development and translation are evolving and continuous processes.

Describe the process of introducing Localazy to your product. Did you face any challenges or issues? How have you overcome them?

It was completely straightforward to get Localazy integrated with the app. I invested extra time to refactor a lot of old code to replace my old language selector with the new one based on the Localazy Android library. It allows me to dynamically add languages with no changes to the code.

I also needed to do a few minor improvements because my app is very complicated - it uses a long-running background service that is run in another process. However, Localazy is ready for this situation too, so it was a pleasure.

I was glad to be able to throw out my old language selector because it wasn’t reliable for some users, and since I switched to Localazy, no single complaint arrived about accidental language changes!

What’s best about bringing Localazy to your product?

Peace of mind! That is the most important benefit for me. I no longer have to stress and worry about translations, their quality, and distribution/updating.

For my users, it’s definitely the fast updates and releases.

Would you like to share any statistics? Number of team members working on the project, number of lines of code, number of languages available, number of contributors to localization, etc.?

We are a team of two - there’s me, the developer & self-made app marketer, and my wife on maternity leave, who is working mostly on customer support responding to every single comment, email, and any other feedback.

The numbers:

  • The app has around 170.000 lines of code mostly in Java, but all new features are written in Kotlin.
  • We’ve responded to over 60.000 comments, ratings, emails, and tickets.
  • We receive up to 50 new emails every single day.
  • There are 10 million downloads worldwide. I guess it’s a nice success.
  • The app is available in 30 languages and almost half of them don’t use the Latin alphabet. Additional 5 languages are currently translated only partly, so I haven’t made them available publicly yet.
  • Almost 200 awesome people helped me with translating the app to more languages over the last few years.

✔️ In conclusion… 🔗

Do you have any tips or advice you’d like to share with our readers?

Start with the localization of your app early. It’s better to think about it from the very beginning. Follow best practices - don’t misuse plurals, use string interpolation over concatenation, design your layouts for RTL, count with different string lengths, etc.

For sure, bring Localazy onboard early too, and offload all the legwork. It’s not worth your time to invest it into something that is already solved in such an awesome way.

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