iOS apps tend to play things fast and loose with users’ personal data compared to Android apps, according to a study from risk assessment company Appthority. The iOS apps studied were more likely overall to collect and share data like contacts, e-mail addresses, and locations, and both platforms’ apps tended to send and receive user data without encryption.
Appthority’s study looked at 100 free apps, 50 each on Android and iOS in five categories. One hundred percent of the iOS apps were found to send and receive user data unencrypted, while 92 percent of the Android apps did the same.
Not only were iOS apps slightly more cavalier about how they handled data, they tended to collect more of it. Sixty percent of the included iOS apps collected location data compared to 42 percent of Android apps, and 54 percent of iOS apps collected contacts or e-mail addresses while only 20 percent of Android apps did so. Slightly more iOS apps shared user data with ad networks or data analytics companies at 60 percent to Android’s 50 percent. The only category where Android edged out iOS was in using single sign-on support (authorizing accounts with Facebook or Twitter), which occurred in 50 percent of Android apps to 50 percent of iOS’s.
Even if Android tends to play home to more malware-ridden apps, Appthority states that “less than one percent” of the store’s apps host mobile malware. Of course, the caveat here is that only 50 free apps for each platform were studied; Appthority’s report may not apply to every developer out there, but it aims to provide a more general look at how user privacy is handled on the respective app stores. Still, in terms of collecting data and handing it in ways that put it at risk of exposure or privacy violations, iOS developers on the whole may be just a bit too uninhibited.