Freelance App Developer


Mobile applications (‘apps’) are software programs that run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Apps are created for a particular mobile operating system such as Apple iOS, Windows Mobile or Android, and are made available for download via distribution platforms such as Apple’s App Store, Windows Store and Google Play.

Some freelance app developers build their own apps that they market and sell via an app store. In November 2016, Google Play and Apple’s App Store each had more than two million apps available to download and listed more than 60 app categories, including games, shopping, weather, maps and navigation, health and fitness, dating, business, productivity and wearable technology.


Although there are no qualifications legally required to trade as an app developer, in practice, anyone starting up will need skills and experience in multiple programming languages and mobile operating systems. Negotiation and project management skills will also be useful.

App developers must ensure that they do not infringe the copyright of others when creating apps. For example, developers should check whether they have permission to copy and use third-party code, such as open-source code, for commercial use before they use it in their app.

If developing and selling their own app, an app developer is responsible for creating an end-user licence agreement (EULA). This should set out the rights of users, any fees and charges (including details of in-app purchases), the data protection policy and any restrictions on app use.


Freelance app developers are engaged by organisations to design and build apps to be used in their business. The purpose of the app will depend on the business type. For example, an app developed for a retailer might enable customers to browse and search for products, reserve goods, pay for goods, and leave product reviews and testimonials.

The rates charged by app developers depend on various factors, including the developer’s training and qualifications, their professional experience and their reputation. Some developers charge by the hour, while others charge per project. In January 2017, of the 355 UK-based freelancers listed on PeoplePerHour ( that offered ‘mobile app developer’ services, fees ranged from £200 to £950 for the development of an app.

Legal issues

Freelance app developers must meet the requirements set out in various rules and regulations. These cover copyright, data protection and privacy.

Under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, any original code used to design and create an app is automatically protected by copyright. By law, where an agreement between a freelance app developer and their client makes no mention of copyright, the app developer will own the copyright in the app and will be considered to have licensed the client to use the app for its intended purpose.

DISCLAIMER While all reasonable efforts have been made, the publisher makes no warranties that this information is accurate and up-to-date and will not be responsible for any errors or omissions in the information nor any consequences of any errors or omissions. Professional advice should be sought where appropriate.