USB on the Go for mobile phones

Wednesday 08th, June 2011 / 11:00 Written by
USB on the Go for mobile phones

One feature I miss on most mobile phones is the ability to connect a portable disk and transfer data to the phone. Apple, Blackberry or Android phones, all have to be connected a PC (or a WIFI connection) to transfer media and files across. How about when you want to transfer data from a USB Flash drive?

USB OTG to the rescue

USB OTG, or USB On The Go, provides is a way for two devices to talk to each other without the need of a PC. This allows you to just connect your Flash Drive, Cameras or other Media Players to your phone and directly copy files to and from your phone directly using the phone’s file manager application.

I was really excited when I first saw this feature on the Nokia N8 smart phone last year and thought that most newer smart phones would certainly come out with this feature. After all, who wouldn’t want this?  A year later, most Smart phones still lack this feature, I’ve seen it  primarily on Nokia devices (the N8, E7, C7, X2 and others) and some Android devices (Samsung Galaxy S II).

What can you connect using USB OTG?

Any USB device which doesn’t need more than a few milliampers of  power to run. Most USB flashcards, External Hard Drives, Cameras or Media Players which don’t pull power from USB should work fine. If you’re looking at connecting that power-hungry 1TB drive to your phone, make sure the your drive comes with a separate power cable, if it charges from USB, it won’t work with your phone.

You’re not limited to connecting just storage devices to your phones. If you want to type out those real long emails, connect your USB keyboard to your phone and type them out on that! A keyboard can also help you achieve higher scores on some of your mobile games as well!  If you’re looking for examples of the Nokia N8 working with various devices, here’s some examples of what you can do – the N8 with a USB keyboard and the N8 with a Wacom Graphics tablet.

Have you tried connecting other devices to your phone? Let us know what you were able to connect by leaving us a comment at the end of this post.

The Future?

USB OTG is not a new technology by any stretch. The first announcement of this technology was made way back in 2001. In fact, a lot of media players and DVD drives already support this feature. We would have thought that every mobile manufacturer would feature this on their range of Smart Phone devices. The Symbian^3 OS and Android OS ( as far as I’m aware ) already support this feature. So why are mobile manufacturers slow pushing out this feature?

If you know the answer, let us know by commenting below or sending us a tweet @myportableworld.

About the author

Vinu is a Technical Architect working on Web technologies and a mobile enthusiast, who likes trying out new gadgets and apps. You can follow him on Twitter @vinuthomas

View all articles by Vinu Thomas

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