A computer researcher at Trinity College Dublin has released a report showing Android phones home to Google 20x more than iOS does to Apple.
Apple and Google have fundamentally different approaches to data. Apple is a hardware and, increasingly, a software and services company. Unlike Google, however, Apple charges for the majority of its products and services. As a result, the company has repeatedly said it has no interest in consumer data, or viewing that data as the product.
In contrast, Google offers much of its services completely free of charge. To make a profit, the company is primarily a data-driven company, where the customer — and their data — is Google’s primary product.
Researcher Doug Leith shows how different the two companies’ approach is to how their phones transmit data, mirroring their approach to consumer data, according to Ars Technica.
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.
Needless to say, Google has disputed the findings, with a spokesperson providing the following statement to Ars:
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.
Despite Google’s protestations, Leith’s research is no surprise to anyone who has followed Google’s data-mining and collection practices.