With theiPad Camera Connection Kit allowing users to connect a variety of unexpected USB devices (like a MIDI keyboard) to their iPads, the next logical question was, “Is there something similar forAndroid?”
Although it’s not advertised or sold by any of the big Android phone manufacturers, the solution is a cheap cable called a USB On-The-Go adapter.
USB On-The-Go (Amazon link), or USB OTG, is essentially a female USB port that plugs into the Micro-USB port of a phone ortablet, allowing you to connect devices that use a standard USB 2.0 or 3.0 connection. in a nutshell, the adapter allows the Android device to be a “USB host,” powering and communicating with the connected device.
Compatibility So far, it’s been difficult to figure out which Android devices are compatible with the USB OTG cable. It’s clear, however, that the Samsung family of Android phones and tablets are the most USB-friendly of them all, allowing users to connect the greatest variety of USB devices.
Even though USB host mode is technically available in devices running Android 3.1 and above, the hardware manufacturers (OEMs) must enable the feature. And, even then, the OEM might limit the types of USB devices the Android phone or tablet supports.
With the help of this crowdsourced chart, and some of our own testing, we found that the following devices are compatible with USB OTG:
So, it’s clear that many Android phones lack support for USB host mode. It’s possible that OEMs will include the feature in future software updates, but until then, those who want to hook up USB accessories to their unsupported Android devices will have to root.
*Although the Galaxy Nexus family supports many USB accessories, it does not support mass storage devices, like USB thumbdrives.
Using the USB OTG adapter There’s no set of instructions on how to use the USB OTG adapter, or what USB accessories are compatible with it. So, I unloaded my drawer of USB stuffs and got to work.
use USB devices with Android
When you plug the OTG adapter into your Android device, a quick notification will appear, letting you know that the phone or tablet has recognized the adapter and is ready to be a USB host.
From there, you can start plugging in a number of USB devices. here are the ones I tested using the Samsung Galaxy S III (S3):
With time, more Android devices will likely support USB hosting. if you discover any additional devices that support the USB OTG adapter, or other USB accessories that work with it, let me know in the comments.