Allowing a user to select their language preferences for Android apps is typically tied to the operating system. Whatever languages your device lists in its OS language settings will determine the languages in which localization your apps, like Firefox for Android (also know as Fennec), will use. Essentially, if your language is not supported by Android, you’re unable to access your apps in your language either.
Additionally, the linguistic experience can be very limiting for the global Android end-user. Frequently device carriers and the manufacturers will filter which languages are available to the user to switch between. An Android device may be marketed as supporting 85 languages, but a user’s carrier in a particular region may only expose five of those 85 languages to the end-user.
These language support and filtration issues (among others) have made unlimited shipping of Fennec localizations an impossibility. We’ve had to carefully monitor the market to identify which languages are Android supported by device and region of the world before we could work with the regional localization team to ship their Fennec localizations. Many Mozilla l10n teams have kept Fennec localizations up-to-date since Fennec’s launch, waiting for a time in which their language will be shipped with Fennec. Thanks to the efforts of Richard Newman and the Fennec engineering team, this will no longer be the status quo for Fennec.
In Fennec 32, users will be able to select from all officially shipped localizations of Fennec within the browser itself. Languages no longer have to be among the list of Android supported languages to become official localizations of the browser. This moves us a huge step forward in being able to deliver Fennec in all of the languages of the world.
We’re still exploring how this will change any part of the onboarding new locales process for Fennec. When working on shipping a new locale, we’ll need the l10n teams’ help to test early and often for character rendering issues, input issues, UI restrictions, and other common internationalization and localization issues. However, if you have consistently maintained your Fennec localization and would like your work to be added to the official release, please send me an email and I will add you to the roadmap.
If you’re anxious to see this in action, this new feature can already be tested in Fennec 32 on the Nightly channel within the browser settings.