Tech companies have talked more about privacy in recent years, and Apple proudly says that they protect user data more than anyone else. This week, new research by Douglas Leith of Trinity College showed that Google collects up to 20 times more data from Android users compared to the data Apple collects from iOS users.
As reported by Ars Technica, the research analyzed the amount of telemetro data that was transferred directly to the companies responsible for the operating systems iOS and Android. It not only checked data sent to Apple or Google through pre-installed apps, but also during idle periods.
Another interesting point about this research is that it also considers data sent from users who have chosen not to share information with the companies in the settings for each operating system.
Both iOS and Android, said researcher Douglas Leith from Trinity College in Ireland, transfer telemetry data to their parent companies even when a user has not logged in or explicitly configured privacy settings to opt out of such collection. Both operating systems also send data to Apple and Google when a user does simple things, such as inserting a SIM card or scrolling through the handset settings screen. Even when idle, each device connects to the back-end server on average every 4.5 minutes.
While iOS automatically collects data from Siri, Safari and iCloud to send to Apple, Android receives data from Chrome, YouTube, Google Docs, Safetyhub, Google Messenger, Clock and Search, even when the user is not signed in to a Google Account. Interestingly, iOS sends approximately 42 KB of data to Apple right after the device launches. Android, on the other hand, sends 1
When idle, Android sends about 1 MB of data to Google every 12 hours, compared to iOS which sends Apple about 52 KB in the same period. In the United States alone, Android collects around 1.3 TB of data every 12 hours. During the same period, iOS collects around 5.8 GB.
A spokesman for Google said Ars Technica that the company disagrees with this survey as it considers it important that both iOS and Android devices send and receive data to the companies behind them, which helps them keep the software up to date and check that everything is working as expected. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Update: Google also reached out 9to5Mac with a statement about the study, which you can read below.
We identified errors in the researcher’s method of measuring data volume and disagree with the paper’s claims that an Android device shares 20 times more data than an iPhone. According to our research, these findings depend on the magnitude, and we shared the methodology problems with the researcher before publication.
This study largely outlines how smartphones work. Modern cars regularly send basic data about vehicle components, their safety status and service plans to car manufacturers, and mobile phones work in very similar ways. This report describes the communication that helps you ensure that iOS or Android software is up to date, that the services work as intended, and that your phone is secure and running efficiently.
The company believes that the method used by the researchers was not ideal, and reinforces that Android and Google’s APIs are built to work with different types of devices, and claims that telemetry data is needed to adjust the platform for different smartphones and tablets.
The complete research with more information is available in this PDF file for those interested in learning more about the study.
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