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Android sends 20x more data to Google than iOS sends to Apple, study says

Summary

iOS and Android, researcher Douglas Leith from Trinity College in Ireland has provided a side-by-side comparison that suggests that, while both iOS and Android collect handset data around the clock—even when devices are idle, just out of the box, or after users have opted out—the Google mobile OS collects about 20 times as much data than its Apple competitor.

 

According to the study both iOS and Android, even when idle, each device connects to its back-end server on average every 4.5 minutes.

 

Google and Apple both disagree with the study. Google claims the data they collect is required for normal operation, patching and updating the OS. Whereas Apple representative says the study is flawed because iOS users can completely opt out of location tracking.

 

Quotes

Quote

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.

 

My thoughts

There’s no way Google can justify collecting so data claiming it’s “required for normal operations of the device” when their direct competitor is collecting so much less. Like what are they doing with all this data?!

 

It makes Google look bad to not be transparent about the data collection and how it is used. If someone wants to pay less for their device and let Google use their data then it’s totally fine. But Google should just own it.

 

Sources

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/03/android-sends-20x-more-data-to-google-than-ios-sends-to-apple-study-says/

Study

https://www.scss.tcd.ie/doug.leith/apple_google.pdf

 

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Question did the iphone they tested get loaded with the same Google apps that people install like gmail, chrome, and maps? Those would all be default on Android and increase the amount of data going to Google but not default on a iOS device. To do a fair comparison they would need to remove everything but the app store, core OS update functionality, and whatever other apps both phones default account automatically logs into on setup.

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I mean android is free so that's just how Google makes money

 

You buy apple devices and pay for their software and services upfront

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59 minutes ago, SlidewaysZ said:

Question did the iphone they tested get loaded with the same Google apps that people install like gmail, chrome, and maps? Those would all be default on Android and increase the amount of data going to Google but not default on a iOS device. To do a fair comparison they would need to remove everything but the app store, core OS update functionality, and whatever other apps both phones default account automatically logs into on setup.

Default Google apps can't be removed unless your device is rooted, or comes with a version of Android that doesn't include them. So it is a very fair comparison as they are part of the default Android experience.

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16 minutes ago, xtroria said:

I mean android is free so that's just how Google makes money

 

You buy apple devices and pay for their software and services upfront

Android is spyware, yes, but you don't buy an iPhone, you merely pay for the privilege of carrying around with you, while Apple retains control over it.

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16 minutes ago, Dabombinable said:

Default Google apps can't be removed unless your device is rooted, or comes with a version of Android that doesn't include them. So it is a very fair comparison as they are part of the default Android experience.

I'll agree and disagree.

 

While, I do admit you can't really remove some of the Google Apps, I think the paper is wrong and should say Android consumes 20x more data cap than Apple.  e.g. (hypothetical) if Google sends only the phone's ID as a check-in, and Apple does as well...but each Google service decides to do so as well...it's still consuming 20x more data but realistically it's sending the same data.

 

Actually, looking at their "Table 1", they do seem to share similar data with the only notable distinctions being that Apple sends location, nearby wifi MAC addresses and local IP address information (although it does seem as though Apple you can turn the location thing off).  Overall, I think this is just a paper trying to make a splash, and the news outlet running with it.

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47 minutes ago, Granular said:

Android is spyware, yes, but you don't buy an iPhone, you merely pay for the privilege of carrying around with you, while Apple retains control over it.

While you're true unfortunately iPhone is the best phone in terms of re-sale if you buy a phone right when it's released

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bUt aNdRoiD iS oPeN SaUcE

Edited by Drama Lama

Hi

 

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hi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, SlidewaysZ said:

Question did the iphone they tested get loaded with the same Google apps that people install like gmail, chrome, and maps? Those would all be default on Android and increase the amount of data going to Google but not default on a iOS device. To do a fair comparison they would need to remove everything but the app store, core OS update functionality, and whatever other apps both phones default account automatically logs into on setup.

no they don't need to remove the apps. you can compare the apps loaded by default. 

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1 hour ago, Granular said:

Android is spyware, yes, but you don't buy an iPhone, you merely pay for the privilege of carrying around with you, while Apple retains control over it.

uh no that's not true. regardless iPhones keep their value really well so i don't care either way. 

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Didn't Windows 10 teach anybody anything?

 

The amount of telemetry being sent means nothing, what's important is what data the telemetry being sent actually contains..I remember a few years back when someone discovered Windows 10 connected back to MS 1000s of times per day, it was what started the whole "Windows 10 is spyware" movement, then some people who actually knew what they were doing took a look and discovered that 99% of the traffic was totally benign and was for things like time & date checking, update checking, settings retrieval from MS servers etc etc. Of course by that point the damage was done and none of the conspiracy theorists bothered to read the results from the experts so Windows 10 still has that reputation to this day despite MS having a website which tells you EXACTLY what they collect and for what purpose.

 

Just because an app is talking to a server often doesn't automatically mean its harvesting your data.

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1 hour ago, Granular said:

Android is spyware, yes, but you don't buy an iPhone, you merely pay for the privilege of carrying around with you, while Apple retains control over it.

Android isn’t spyware (at least not the core system), what makes android a privacy nightmare are the google services.

When you buy a movie on DVD you also don’t buy the film, you just buy an eternal license to watch the movie on this DVD.

Hi

 

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3 hours ago, SlidewaysZ said:

Question did the iphone they tested get loaded with the same Google apps that people install like gmail, chrome, and maps? Those would all be default on Android and increase the amount of data going to Google but not default on a iOS device. To do a fair comparison they would need to remove everything but the app store, core OS update functionality, and whatever other apps both phones default account automatically logs into on setup.

No. Coz Android phones all come preloaded with fuck ton of Google stuff which is in most cases also used by users like GMail or Google Maps. Removing it all creates biased environment that is not used by almost anyone. And even then I'm willing to bet Android would still send bunch of stuff to Google.

 

As for what, I'm using iOS and my data logs are absolutely polluted by blocked Google junk. And I literally don't use a single Google service on app. It's all crap that comes with 3rd party apps. Let that sink in. Google spreading its tentacles on you even though you don't use anything from them. Not OS or the apps.

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1 hour ago, Master Disaster said:

despite MS having a website which tells you EXACTLY what they collect and for what purpose.

 

You can even see the precise information being set from individual PCs by enabling the diagnostic data viewer in settings

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2 hours ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

uh no that's not true

That is very much true, you can't do much with your iPhone, especially in matters of repair because apple has been pushing serialization lately but also specifically prohibiting manufacturers of parts like screens from selling to anyone else but apple so you can't buy a new screen, or a chip required to repair your iDevice, and they've been doing this purposely to screw people over, not because they care. And when it comes to software, jailbreaking and iPhone to try to gain some control is a nightmare just to say the least. While it may not be true that apple fully controls the iPhone that someone might own, it is most definitely true that they do have some control over it at the very least. Apple wants to have full control over your device, from the moment that you buy it to the moment that it ends up in land fill or recycled and they're slowly making changes that clearly show that they're moving in that direction and some manufacturers slowly follow through their steps as well.

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2 hours ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

uh no that's not true. regardless iPhones keep their value really well so i don't care either way. 

Can you unlock your phone? Can you install a custom firmware? Can you install apps from anywhere except the Apple store? Can you use services outside of Apple services that they don't explicitly allow? Does Apple have the ability to remove apps installed on your device if they decide to remove it from the store?

 

You don't own an iPhone, its more like a rental agreement where you pay in full upfront and then still have to abide by their usage conditions. They don't even give users the choice to unlock the device at the cost of warranty and service.

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27 minutes ago, AndreiArgeanu said:

That is very much true, you can't do much with your iPhone, especially in matters of repair because apple has been pushing serialization lately but also specifically prohibiting manufacturers of parts like screens from selling to anyone else but apple so you can't buy a new screen, or a chip required to repair your iDevice, and they've been doing this purposely to screw people over, not because they care. And when it comes to software, jailbreaking and iPhone to try to gain some control is a nightmare just to say the least. While it may not be true that apple fully controls the iPhone that someone might own, it is most definitely true that they do have some control over it at the very least. Apple wants to have full control over your device, from the moment that you buy it to the moment that it ends up in land fill or recycled and they're slowly making changes that clearly show that they're moving in that direction and some manufacturers slowly follow through their steps as well.

as if Samsung doesn't do that as well lmaooooo

 

22 minutes ago, Master Disaster said:

Can you unlock your phone? Can you install a custom firmware? Can you install apps from anywhere except the Apple store? Can you use services outside of Apple services that they don't explicitly allow? Does Apple have the ability to remove apps installed on your device if they decide to remove it from the store?

i can jailbreak it which makes all those arguments invalid, and that is a valid argument to use because andoid fans are always going on about rooting, which is effectively the same.

 

23 minutes ago, Master Disaster said:

You don't own an iPhone, its more like a rental agreement where you pay in full upfront and then still have to abide by their usage conditions. They don't even give users the choice to unlock the device at the cost of warranty and service.

there are loads of android phones with a locked bootloader as well.

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21 minutes ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

as if Samsung doesn't do that as well lmaooooo

I think you didn't bother reading the whole thing at all, you entirely missed the last part. Also, it still doesn't change the fact that apple is pushing for this change, making it their fault for the industry following as well since they're leaders.

 

50 minutes ago, AndreiArgeanu said:

and some manufacturers slowly follow through their steps as well.

 

21 minutes ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

i can jailbreak it which makes all those arguments invalid,

jailbreaking an iPhone is far, far more difficult than rooting most if not all android phones, I can root my android phone using a simple apk that works with just a click, there isn't much of a need to jump through hoops, compared to an iPhone, where not only is it much more difficult, but is also often quickly patched by apple, and in certain IOS versions, you can't jailbreak at all. So the arguments still stands since jailbreaking an iphone and rooting an android is not nearly the same thing as rooting an android.

 

Also you don't need to root or jailbreak an android phone to install apps from a place different from the play store, or customize elements of your phone like the UI, you just download the app you want to install, and install it, no need to bother with rooting of any kind.

21 minutes ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

there are loads of android phones with a locked bootloader as well.

there's also loads with unlocked bootloaders.

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23 minutes ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

i can jailbreak it which makes all those arguments invalid

additionally, running the latest version of IOS you can only jailbreak a handful of iDevices which is an iphone 7 or lower. You can also jailbreak an iphone 8 or iphone x using the same method, but not only do you have to disable all security measures like face id, passcode etc, but it also causes stability issues once the phone is jailbroken. And to my knowledge if you've got a device newer than the X like the 11 or 12 you can't do jack shit to jailbreak those to my knowledge at least for now.

 

Also even once you've jailbroken an iphone, the third party app support is severely lacking compared to android

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The article title is misleading - Android sends more data in terms of raw file size

 

Also, Apple sends MAC addresses.

 

It's somewhat disappointing how Ars Technica has decided to use a misleading title for this article. 

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51 minutes ago, AndreiArgeanu said:

That is very much true, you can't do much with your iPhone, especially in matters of repair because apple has been pushing serialization lately but also specifically prohibiting manufacturers of parts like screens from selling to anyone else but apple so you can't buy a new screen, or a chip required to repair your iDevice, and they've been doing this purposely to screw people over, not because they care. And when it comes to software, jailbreaking and iPhone to try to gain some control is a nightmare just to say the least. While it may not be true that apple fully controls the iPhone that someone might own, it is most definitely true that they do have some control over it at the very least. Apple wants to have full control over your device, from the moment that you buy it to the moment that it ends up in land fill or recycled and they're slowly making changes that clearly show that they're moving in that direction and some manufacturers slowly follow through their steps as well.

I find it disappointing that consumers either don't care or defend Apple's marketing on taking away device control, the security marketing tactic works well though.  I don't consider the phone as mine unless I can replace the battery or screen myself, or have enough control over the OS that I can change the UI.

Although Samsung might be heading towards forcing people to go to them for repairs, iirc the A51 fingerprint reader is serialized to the phone, so right to repair is a good thing IMO.

But as far as a phone sending data, I'd like to see Google collecting less, however Apple still collects your data, the phone carrier is still collecting your data, and if you use any Google services or social media those companies are still getting your data.

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29 minutes ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

i can jailbreak it which makes all those arguments invalid, and that is a valid argument to use because andoid fans are always going on about rooting, which is effectively the same.

Not even close, rooting an Android is totally different to jailbreaking an iPhone. I won't rehash the reasons as they've already been posted by others plus a lot of the things I listed don't require a root on Android at all.

29 minutes ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

 

there are loads of android phones with a locked bootloader as well.

Yep except for the fact that you can always request the unlock code from the manufacturer and unlock the device if you choose.

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2 hours ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

as if Samsung doesn't do that as well lmaooooo

Hmm, Samsung is the only Android manufacturer??? Odd...

2 hours ago, Ashley MLP Fangirl said:

i can jailbreak it which makes all those arguments invalid, and that is a valid argument to use because andoid fans are always going on about rooting, which is effectively the same.

You can do far more on Android before rooting, though Google seems to be trying to change this every year 😞

ATM I have done a lot of customization on my Note 10+, which I don't plan on rooting. Some of it was even through official apps (GoodLock).

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1 minute ago, gabrielcarvfer said:

It is spyware. I've blocked a ton of their crap, and everything still works perfectly. Never measured how much of the traffic they represent though.

By the very definition of the term, no it isn't.

 

Its not spying on you, Microsoft have multiple ways for you to check exactly what is being sent and saved plus a website listing exactly what they take and why.

 

Spying implies a covert action.

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1 minute ago, gabrielcarvfer said:

If they collect my data without my explicit permission (and no, using an OS is not an explicit permission), it's spyware. Android also is. 

You're given the option to disable it during installation, if you turn it all off then the only thing sent back is anonymous telemetry.

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