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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Google and Apple both collect data from their users on their respective mobile operating systems, even when users are simply browsing the settings page or inserting a SIM card. Android, however, collects 20x more data from users compared to iOS, according to newly published research.
iPhone-12-v-Android-2020.jpg

A study from Douglas Leith at Trinity College, reported by Ars Technica, says that while both OSes collect data from their users regularly, Android fair exceeded the amount collected compared to Apple's iOS.

Specifically, Leith says that, for example, on device startup, Android sends around 1MB of user data back to Google, while iOS only transmits about 42KB. Sitting idle, Android sends around 1MB of user data to Google every 12 hours, compared to Apple only receiving around 52KB over the same 12 hour period.
Where Android stands out, Leith said, is in the amount of data it collects. At startup, an Android device sends Google about 1MB of data, compared with iOS sending Apple around 42KB. When idle, Android sends roughly 1MB of data to Google every 12 hours, compared with iOS sending Apple about 52KB over the same period. In the US alone, Android collectively gathers about 1.3TB of data every 12 hours. During the same period, iOS collects about 5.8GB.
While the research clearly shows that Android collects more data from users, there are significant caveats. Leith says he used a jailbroken iPhone 8 running iOS 13.6.1 for the study, meaning the data is based on an iOS version that most iPhone and iPad users are no longer currently running. On Android, Leith used a Google Pixel 2, running Android 10, released last year.

In a statement, Google calls the researched flawed, stating that the notion that Android collects more user data compared to iOS is "off by an order of magnitude."
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
Apple told Ars Technica that it "provides transparency and control for personal information it collects" and that the research "gets things wrong." The research is available as a PDF for those interested in learning more.

Article Link: Research Claiming Android Collects 20x More User Data Than iOS 'Off By An Order of Magnitude,' Says Google
 
Last edited:

Pangalactic

macrumors 6502a
Nov 28, 2016
509
1,432
A typical "study" designed just to put out an attention-grabbing headline.

No analysis of what exactly is being collected.
No multi-device testing.
No even current-gen device testing.
Hell, how does it even qualify as a study with a sample of two(!!!) devices?!

Literally, the only conclusion from this nonsense is that a jailbroken iPhone 8 sends less data than a Google Pixel 2.

I'm not saying that Android collects less data than iOS, but the way they are trying to prove it is ridiculous.
 

obamtl

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2010
483
753
Google and Apple both say it's wrong, so it should be taken with a pinch of salt. That said, surely anyone using Google products (including Android OS) understands that you get those services free of charge (or provided on the cheap) because Google is getting valuable data from you that they will monetise.
 
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RamGuy

macrumors 65816
Jun 7, 2011
1,271
1,606
Norway
I can't see how telemetry and data collection is bad in itself. As long as the data being collected is going through a secure channel where all the data is getting scrubbed so it stays private I see no issues with it.

The problem has been that pretty everyone wants to collect everything in order to increase profits by selling whatever data they collect. Privacy and security has never been a part of the system making it a complete mess and making us the users suffer a great deal.

I don't mind sending telemetry data to Apple. As long as it's being encrypted and scrubbed. Apple gets the data they need to improve their services, no man-in-the-middle can intercept it and none of it compromises my privacy.



The issue is how there is no way for us as end-users to know if this is being sent using secure channels, and we don't really know if anything is being scrubbed or if everything being collected can be linked directly back to us and used to identify us in ways that is compromising our privacy. We have to simply trust the companies involved and hope they are taking security and privacy seriously. And sadly in 2021 there is barely anyone in the industry that deserves this amount of trust.
 

A.wang28

macrumors member
Nov 5, 2017
38
61
Australia
As soon as you decide to publish a study scrutinising Apple and Google, you better be prepared to be scrutinised by a group of engineers that’s orders of magnitude larger than your research team. Not to mention, by a group of engineers who have much greater access to the actual OS design. I applaud the effort by the team, but hey, don’t expect anything extraordinary out of it if you end up bootlegging the research methodology.
 
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metabob

macrumors member
Nov 2, 2016
47
61
Finland
For me, it's not about how much data my phone manufacturer collects on me, it's what it does with that data that matters.
If a company collects huge amounts of data, it's just a matter of time they start to do something evil with it (like selling it to bad actors to try to influence your political views, or worse). Or, inevitably they will screw up and leak that data to hackers.

So no, it doesn't really matter what they claim they're using the data for. They must not collect the data they don't really, really need in the first place.
 

708692

Cancelled
Jun 18, 2012
696
850
I would like to read this paper, but unsure where to get it.
However, if the researcher is simply measuring the amount of data over a time period, without any knowledge of what the data is or where it is being sent, they can't make these claims (I have to say this, even though I dislike Google).

The data should be inspected and the destination identified.
 

NightFox

macrumors 68040
May 10, 2005
3,066
4,102
Shropshire, UK
If a company collects huge amounts of data, it's just a matter of time they start to do something evil with it (like selling it to bad actors to try to influence your political views, or worse). Or, inevitably they will screw up and leak that data to hackers.
I'd like to see evidence of the absolute inevitability of both of these scenarios.

...So no, it doesn't really matter what they claim they're using the data for. They must not collect the data they don't really, really need in the first place.
But there's a difference between 'needing' data and being able to use data in a way that benefits consumers. Apple can use a lot of data it gathers from iOS interaction to improve iOS. It doesn't 'need' that data, but I'm good with that. The same goes for crowd-sourced data, I'm OK with sharing some of my location/route data with Google in return for live traffic data (but that doesn't mean I'm OK with them using it for other purposes, which goes back to my original point). YMMV.
 
Last edited:

Abazigal

Contributor
Jul 18, 2011
17,384
17,852
Singapore
I would like to read this paper, but unsure where to get it.
However, if the researcher is simply measuring the amount of data over a time period, without any knowledge of what the data is or where it is being sent, they can't make these claims (I have to say this, even though I dislike Google).

The data should be inspected and the destination identified.

Here you go.

 
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fatalpuls3

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2019
4
2


Google and Apple both collect data from their users on their respective mobile operating systems, even when users are simply browsing the settings page or inserting a SIM card. Android, however, collects 20x more data from users compared to iOS, according to newly published research.
iPhone-12-v-Android-2020.jpg

A study from Douglas Leith at Trinity College, reported by Ars Technica, says that while both OSes collect data from their users regularly, Android fair exceeded the amount collected compared to Apple's iOS.

Specifically, Leith says that, for example, on device startup, Android sends around 1MB of user data back to Google, while iOS only transmits about 42KB. Sitting idle, Android sends around 1MB of user data to Google every 12 hours, compared to Apple only receiving around 52KB over the same 12 hour period.
While the research clearly shows that Android collects more data from users, there are significant caveats. Leith says he used a jailbroken iPhone 8 running iOS 13.6.1 for the study, meaning the data is based on an iOS version that most iPhone and iPad users are no longer currently running. On Android, Leith used a Google Pixel 2, running Android 10, released last year.

In a statement, Google calls the researched flawed, stating that the notion that Android collects more user data compared to iOS is "off by an order of magnitude."

Apple told Ars Technica that it "provides transparency and control for personal information it collects" and that the research "gets things wrong." The research is available as a PDF for those interested in learning more.

Article Link: Research Claiming Android Collects 20x More User Data Than iOS 'Off By An Order of Magnitude,' Says Google
See this is why you shouldnt have posted this article. The devices used are not relevant. Bad testing methodology only leads to false claims. While I fully believe android does send a ton more data back to Google than an iOS iPhone send back to Apple.
 

NexusUser

macrumors member
Aug 24, 2016
66
391
Funny how you neglect to mention the paper's conclusion that Apple collects more types of information than Google does, including location, local IP Address and nearby WiFi device's MAC Addresses.
 
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