As per a new research, it has been found that Android sends 20 times more data back to Google, compared to the data that iOS sends back to Apple. This includes data when the devices are in use, starting up, or even when idle and not in use. On average, both Android and iOS devices send data every 4.5 minutes back to Google and Apple’s servers, respectively.
Google and Apple point out flaws in research which studies Android and iOS’ data usage
This information has been gained from a research undertaken by Douglas Leith from Trinity College in Ireland. The research measured the amount of data transferred by both Android and iOS when doing certain tasks like changing SIM or using the Settings app, as well as using built-in apps like Chrome, Safari, and the likes. Douglas Leith performed his testing using a Google Pixel 2 running Android 10, and an iPhone 8 running iOS 13.6.1, which was jailbroken using checkm8 exploit.
As per Ars Technica, the study showed that Android devices sent 1MB of data during startup, compared to just 42KB for iOS devices. During idle status, Android sends 1MB of data every 12 hours back to Google, while iOS sends just 52KB of data back to Apple. However, despite the low data usage, not everything is in the green when it comes to iOS.
Even when users are not logged, iOS continues to collect location data, local IP addresses, and nearby WiFi MAC addresses, which is not something Apple should be doing considering its stance on privacy. Android does not collect these, however, it continues to collect IMEI, hardware serial number, phone number, cookies, telemetry data, and more, just like iOS devices.
Regarding the data collection that iOS does, an Apple spokesperson told Ars Technica that Apple provides controls for the personal information that it collects and pointed out issues in the report. iOS asks users during setup if they want to share their location data, so Apple definitely asks for consent before sending back the information, despite the user being signed in or not.
A Google spokesperson shared the following statement with Ars Technica on this matter:
We identified flaws in the researcher’s methodology for 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 are off by an order of magnitude, and we shared our methodology concerns with the researcher before publication.
This research largely outlines how smartphones work. Modern cars regularly send basic data about vehicle components, their safety status and service schedules to car manufacturers, and mobile phones work in very similar ways. This report details those communications, which help ensure that iOS or Android software is up to date, services are working as intended, and that the phone is secure and running efficiently.
Douglas Leith, the researcher behind this study, claimed that both operating systems do not provide “realistic options” for preventing data sharing. Both operating systems provide sufficient controls to completely disable sharing of data such as location and telemetry, however, sharing information such as device serial numbers and IMEI might not be in the user’s control.