Security software company Bitdefender said that “applications are equally invasive and curious on iOS as on Android”, following a probe into user privacy on the two platforms.
According to the company, 45.41 per cent of surveyed iOS apps have location tracking features, compared with 34.55 per cent of Android apps, including many titles for which location is not a central feature – such as Latest Nail Fashion Trends for iOS and PokerStars TV for Android.
“While accessing location services can be used legitimately by applications, sending location information over the web is not necessary for some apps and may pose risks for users in case of a data breach with the information harvesting company,” Catalin Cosoi, chief strategist at Bitdefender, said.
It was also noted that while only 7.69 per cent of Android apps could read the device contact list, iOS titles are “much snoopier”, with 18.92 per cent including this capability. This included lexicography titles Longman Contemporary English and Cambridge American Idiom for Android (both now removed from the Play store), and 3D Badminton II for iOS – which “reads contacts’ emails and sends them to a server in Hong Kong”.
Other information “leaked” by apps included email address, device ID, and phone number.
Bitdefender noted that the information is often used for mobile advertising purposes, stating that: “Mobile adware is totally different: adware tightly integrates with the device – it does not run inside the browser, isolated from other applications. On mobiles, advertising frameworks can learn your communications habits, friends, friends’ contacts, location and – more frequently – all of the above at the same time.”
The company also noted that Android allows users to install apps from sources other than the official Google store, which means they will not benefit from the security features implemented by the search giant.
Bitdefender said that it has assessed 314,474 free applications for Android, and 207,843 titles for Android.