Dubai: For the first time since the Apple’s App Store launched in 2008, Arabic speakers will finally be able to find out for themselves if “there is an app for that”.
The arrival of Arabic on the App Store, which comes as part of the new iOS 13 mobile operating system, had been widely speculated on since July, thanks to its inclusion in a beta version of the new software. Arabic’s addition is part of the company’s aim to make its services as local as possible, according to Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice-president of Apple Music & International Content. Apple says it wants a completely localised experience for users, including having local languages, local currencies, and local payment methods.
“We know there is a very large proportion of our customers in the Middle East who have their OS set to Arabic — versus English — as a standard language, and one of the things we’ve been working really hard on, specifically in the Arab world, is the introduction of the Arabic language in services with the launch of iOS13,” Schusser said.
Arabic isn’t new to the iPhone. It has been included in Apple’s mobile operating system since 2015. Siri can also speak Arabic. But users searching the App Store, a core feature in today’s smartphones, in Arabic would get different or erroneous results that someone searching in English.
“The App Store will be completely localised in Arabic, and we’re hugely proud of that,” he said.
The addition of Arabic includes more than just descriptions and user interfaces of the apps. In-app events and support will also be in Arabic. More daily content in Arabic is expected to create opportunities for developers in the region and around and the world.
The lack of Arabic digital content has long been an issue. Despite having 420 million speakers, making it the fifth or sixth-most (official numbers vary) widely used language in the world, the percentage of Arabic content online has been estimated at around 1 to 3 per cent.
The launch of the Arabic App Store is meant to support users in the 14 Arabic-speaking countries that Apple has launched in, but users all over the world will be able to use Arabic, too. Apple currently supports 40 languages.
The first place where users will find Arabic content is in the App Store’s ‘Today Stories’, a localised story designed to help inform users about apps and games. The Today Story for the launch of Arabic will include art by Dubai-based calligraphy artist Wissam Shawkat.
Apple said it is working with thousands of local and international games and apps developers to make sure more Arabic content is added to the store.
Launching along with the App Store is the Arcade app, which will also be localised. International game titles that have developed full Arabic content include Fortnite and Clash of Clans. Regional developers include Babil Games and Tamatem Games. The Arcade app launched globally on September 19.
Apple said that TV+, which launches on November 1 with movies and TV shows produced by media giants such as Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, will launch those shows in English with Arabic subtitles.
New iPhones go on sale
Three new iPhones will be available in the UAE on Friday: the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
The new phones will go on sale at the Apple Store at the Dubai Mall at 7:30am, and the new phones will also be available for purchase at etisalat and du stores.
The price for the iPhone 11 starts at Dh2,949. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at Dh4,219 and the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at Dh4,639.
Also available will be the new Apple Watch Series 5 and the 7th generation iPad.