Skip to main content

Google is taking far more data from your Android devices than you may think

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Valery Brozhinsky)
Audio player loading…

Researchers have discovered that Android devices (opens in new tab) are collecting far more telemetry data on users than iOS (opens in new tab).

The findings from Douglas Leith from Trinity College in Ireland were part of a project looking to quantify the data both Android and iOS handsets send to their headquarters.

Leith observes that even when the minimally configured handsets are idle both iOS and Android share data with the parent company on average every 4.5 minutes.

TechRadar needs yo...

We're looking at how our readers use VPN for a forthcoming in-depth report. We'd love to hear your thoughts in the survey below. It won't take more than 60 seconds of your time.

>> Click here to start the survey in a new window (opens in new tab)<<

Even more worryingly, he observed that both mobile operating systems transmit telemetry data, including the phone’s IMEI, hardware serial number, SIM serial number and more, to their respective HQs even when a user has explicitly declined to share such details.

Insatiable appetite

As he compared both Android and iOS handsets in various states, factory reset, with/without SIM, and more, Leith observed that “almost two orders of magnitude more data is uploaded by Android (3.6MB) than by iOS (42KB) during startup.” 

Scaling up his measurements for all Android and iOS devices in the US, these figures  translate to Google collecting around 1.3 TB of data every 12 hours as compared to 5.8GB for iOS.

Google has disputed the findings, saying in a statement to Ars Technica. “According to our research, these findings are off by an order of magnitude, and we shared our methodology concerns with the researcher before publication,” reads Google’s statement.

The Android developer reasons that the report is measuring the communications that takes place to ensure the operating system is “working as intended, and that the phone is secure and running efficiently.”

Via: Ars Technica (opens in new tab)

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.