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International flavor comes to OpenSocial with translation app

Created by social network Hi5, the tool will let developers "crowdsource" the translation of their app content so that they may have broader geographic reach.

Social network Hi5 plans to announce on Thursday that it has built a developer application with the Google-created OpenSocial standard that "crowdsources" language translation.

This makes it possible for OpenSocial-compatible social networks or applications to let their users work to translate a site or application's text and interface into more languages, in turn making it easier for the service to have broader geographic reach. The translation app will be implemented on Hi5, a social network that was founded in San Francisco but is most popular in Spanish-speaking countries, as well as its own developer platform, and is open for more developers to use as well through OpenSocial.

Hi5's own site is already available in two dozen languages.

One big player in the social-app space that plans to use Hi5's translation code is iLike, a music service that has become popular largely through applications for platforms from Facebook to Apple's iTunes, and hopes to see its user base distributed around the world as well as across the Web. Another is RockYou, the "app factory" behind some of the most popular applications created with the Facebook and OpenSocial standards.

"As the leading music provider on hi5, we're excited to know that hi5's crowdsourcing service would expand iLike's reach internationally, helping music spread among fans from different languages, geographies and cultures," iLike CEO Ali Partovi said in a release.

The concept of crowdsourcing language translations caught fire when Facebook started enlisting volunteer members to help with the effort through an application on its own platform called Translation. The Hi5 application will, in effect, do the same thing for the OpenSocial platform.

Google built OpenSocial as a universal standard for social-network applications, and has since gained the following of almost every social site except for Facebook, which continues to use its own platform. Earlier this year, OpenSocial was spun off into a nonprofit organization separate from Google.