A Study Says That Idle Android Devices Send Way More Data To Google Than Idle iOS Devices

If tracking your location when you tell Google not to isn’t enough of a problem for the company who claims not to “do no evil”, it now has a new problem that might be even bigger. In a paper titled “Google Data Collection,” [Waring: PDF] Douglas C. Schmidt, a computer science professor at Vanderbilt University, arrives at some scary conclusions. Here’s two highlights:

  • An idle Android phone with Chrome web browser active in the background communicated location information to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period. An equivalent experiment found that on an iOS device with Safari open but not Chrome, Google could not collect any appreciable data unless a user was interacting with the device.
  • An idle Android phone running Chrome sends back to Google nearly fifty times as many data requests per hour as an idle iPhone running Safari.

The paper lists other examples. But here’s the bottom line. Your really cool Android smartphone or tablet is far more chatty with Google than your average iPhone or iPad. Now this could easily devolve into a Android versus iOS debate. But it doesn’t have to. Instead this is the questions that should be asked. Why on God’s green Earth does an Android device need to talk to Google that often?

Oh wait. I know the reason. When you use a Google product, and that includes smartphones made by Samsung, LG or whomever, you the consumer become the product.

It’s food for thought the next time you want a smartphone.


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