The time displayed on most Android phones is wrong

Summary:The problem dates back to an Android bug first uncovered in December 2009.

Did you know that the time displayed on most Android handsets is wrong? Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains why to Joshua Topolsky in the latest episode of On The Verge.

Tyson talks about the issue at the 15m 20s mark.

Most Android devices set the time based on the data they receive from GPS signals. While the clocks on the GPS satellites are incredibly accurate atomic clocks, the timekeeping system used by them was defined up to 1982.

A total of 15 'leap seconds' have been added to the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) time scale since then, which Android handsets don't compensate for, so these handsets are running exactly 15 seconds too fast.

The GPS signal does include the offset difference between GPS time and UTC in the message it sends to receivers, but it seems that this information isn't being used by Android to correct for the leap seconds.

Interestingly enough, this has been listed as an Android bug since December 2009. It seems like an easy bug to fix, so I'm surprised it's been ignored for so long.

The iPhone also sets the time based on GPS data, but according to Tyson, iOS adds the 15 seconds into the equation, so Apple handsets show the correct time.

Related:

Topics: Hardware, Android, Google, Mobility

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.