Skip to main content

iOS: How to Change Google Maps to a Different Language than the System Setting

Google MapsWe break from our regular programming to give you something that may or may not be useful. In fact, the main purpose of my writing this post is to help guide forlorn web wanderers who are looking for a solution to a very unique problem, now that I’ve figured it out myself.

You see, I live in the United States, where most all the street names are in English, and I use Google Maps on my iPhone 4 to give me turn-by-turn voice directions as I drive around town. However, being the multilingual person that I am, I really wanted to have my iPhone interface in a different language, namely Korean. It seemed like Google Maps could only be in the system language, which is a bummer, because there is not even a Korean voice available. However, after much tweaking, I found a solution! (Please note that I did this on a Mac, but it should work fine on Windows too.)

So how did I do it? It’s easy enough:

1. Set your iPhone to the desired system-wide language (i.e. the one you don’t want Google Maps to be in). In case you’re wondering, that’s under Settings -> General -> International -> Language.

2. Plug your iPhone into the computer, and make sure it shows up in iTunes.

3. Download and install iExplorer. The demo version will work for our purposes. I don’t know if the demo will self-destruct after 30 days or what, but there’s no need to buy a license for this small fix.

4. Find the appropriate file to tweak. If the iPhone is connected, you should see it show up in iExplorer. In the tree on the left, expand Apps and click on Google Maps. Now in the tree that appears in the middle pane, open up Library, then Preferences. The file we’re looking for is com.google.Maps.plist. Grab this file and drop it on the Desktop so you can have a copy to tweak.

5. Tweaking time! Open the copied plist file in your favourite text editor. You will see it’s just an XML file, and you need to add some elements right below the opening <dict> tag:

<key>AppleLanguages</key>
<array>
<string>en</string>
</array>

Of course if you want Google Maps to be in a language other than English, change the string en accordingly. Next scroll down (or search) till you find the UserLanguage key. The string will contain a language code representing the current system language (in my case, ko). Just swap out that language code with en (or your desired language) and save the file.

6. Install the new plist. Now just drag that edited plist file from the desktop back into iExplorer where you got it from. Confirm that you want to replace the old one, and you’re finished! To test it, close out the app on your phone and open it again. It should be in the language that you set, despite the system-wide setting!

I do hope this is useful to someone; I felt it my duty to share this knowledge to save other people time, and give them hope in despair. Thanks to this guy whose video pointed me in the right direction.