iTunes Movies are (still) a mess in Switzerland 

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Switzerland is a multilingual country. It has 4 national languages, and many people speak English.

Language settings are not honoured

Ever since the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003, the user experience has been a total mess. Apple has never managed to offer a consistent experience throughout its Store. Whatever your language settings are, some labels turn up in different languages.

All my devices are setup to use English, with Switzerland region settings for date, time and currency. Most of the time Apple content in Switzerland defaults to German. I can understand it to a certain extend as over 60% of the Swiss population speak German as their main language, and English isn’t an “official” language.

On the other hand, I have more trouble understanding why language settings are not honoured… Be it on macOS or iOS, your language settings are ignored if you don’t choose one of the official languages of the country you have registered your Apple ID in (or the device regional settings). You can set any language you like, it won’t matter, and it has been like this since forever.

Multilingual != mix languages

What gets me climbing up the walls is the way Apple manages movies. I understand that multilingual offerings are a UX challenge, but numerous websites have figured out how to do it. Granted, some better than others. The landing page displays the latest movies (with some labels and content defaulting to German if your system isn’t set to a national language) followed by a language switcher banner, which in itself is a recent improvement, as those links were buried in the content before. The latest version of the Apple TV app displays the selected “language” filter at the top, but some content labels still appear in other languages.

To this day, I fail to understand why movies are bundled with different sets of languages depending on how you navigate the movie store. Why not offer all available languages and just translate the movie title? Sometime the movie title is translated, sometimes not… leading you down more rabbit holes…

James looses his French

Part of what motivated me to write this post is that it occurred to me that movies can loose languages on the way. I purchased the latest James Bond movie early December, and over the weekend Mathias noticed that the French audio track was missing. That track was available at the time of purchase (or lease should I say, as the movie will never belong to you per se). I checked the downloaded version of the movie, and the French track is there…

What is going on? Are audio tracks’ IP or copyrights managed independently from the movie part? Why does Apple offer “No time to Die” in English, German and Italian, but not in French (anymore)?

All of this only applies to the Swiss Apple TV Store of course.

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