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Am a freelance app developer. Should my contracts include a clause to protect me from guaranteeing that the apps I build for clients will be approved?

As long as I for client specs, I shouldn't be accountable. Of course if rejected sure to bug I'll fix.

If so, what kind of verbiage could you suggest to include?

  • IANAL, but if I was a client, I'd expect an app developer to have the knowledge to obtain app store approval. If I request something that would prevent approval, I would want to be told. – Laconic Droid Jun 23 '17 at 13:52
  • True. I've never had this issue before, tbh, but I came across a contract template recently that had this as a clause and thought there may be merit to include in my future contracts. But for the life of me I can't find this template again!! – ryd3r Jun 23 '17 at 15:16
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As a contractual freelancer, you will (should) in one way or the other offer to some extend consulting services, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Just as a medical doctor, after careful observations, you diagnose and prescribe (with likely further observations and adjustment based on your patient's physiological condition and response to treatment in order to achieve the true purpose of the medication, alienating all possible adverse effects from your decision ~ as an expert in your field) based on your knowledge and experience.

In that light, you will have not only exercised as a true professional but equally provided stun statutory cover grounds for any potential legal suite against you.

That said, your agreement should emphatically highlight that you do not take any direct/indirect responsibility for failed events resulting from action(s) contrary to your counsel, before, during and after (a conscious, possibly mutual and acceptable period, further guided by a legal frame and catering for possible alterations called by either you, the contracted, or them, the contractors). Also, you should take full/shared (depending on nature and circumstances) responsibility for incidents resulting from your involvement including but not limited to bugs.

Don't forget natural rules! Know your strength and limits, what you can and cannot do, your ethical, moral value and image, what is feasible and what is not; that gives you control, authority and earn you respect, whether you sign up or decline the offer.

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Well, app store approval and how to get app approved is derived from experience. And knowing that Apple is more rigorous here, you HAVE TO be familiar with all cases when apple WILL or MAY NOT approve of the app.

So you definitely must not put it all in client's hands. If I were the client, I would find you cheated on me and drained my money. For example, you cannot developer app that exists inside iOS system when even the birds know that Apple will never approve of such app.

So how do I handle cases like this:

  1. Ask for project specifications and see all of the features.
  2. Many clients will come to you saying that they are not sure if some feature will be approved so check those features yourself.
  3. If you are in USA, then CALL apple support. They treat US-based companies differently them EU or Asian companies. Ask them if this app can be approved and get some verification of the conversation.
  4. Always check "what's coming in the next iOS". For example, iOS 11 is coming with File app so for me this is a red light that Apple may start rejecting apps that handle files on iOS.
  5. Most times, app will not be approved, but you then need to invest extra energy and time to resolve the issues.

To conclude, you definitely must not code mobile app if you cannot guarantee app's release. If you are not sure, DO call Apple service (or Google Play as well) and check but also DO ask your client to call them himself as well. If you are outside USA and the client is in the USA, then demand that he calls the service due to prioritized treatment.

Regarding the contract, I would definitely consult a legal advisor and ask him to make you the contract. Because inside you have to give a guarantee, which can be voided under certain circumstances. For example, a client has to do his part of the work, but there also has to be clause where both Apple and Google deserve right to reject the app, no matter how well you code it.

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