Saturday, April 23, 2016

"On The Go" with Android

Because of gray clouds covering the sky and a 15% chance of precipitation I had thought about writing this post out on my own deck by the patio table, but considering that I'm wanting to showcase the OTG ("On The Go") functionality of my Android devices I decided that it would simply be stupid to write the post at home rather than "on the go."  I'm taking a decided risk here because I've been caught in "15% chance of precipitation" on the scooter in the past, and I can assure you that it's every bit as wet and cold as 100% chance of precipitation is.  My location of choice for this post, McDonald's, the first of the cheapo food places to offer free Wifi.  I can fill my belly with two sausage burritos and a senior soda for $3.17 so even though it's not my favorite restaurant, (and I call it a restaurant loosely, but that's a whole 'nother story), it suffices for a task such as the one I'm in the process of undertaking.  And, check out the amount of junk inside a single burrito.  Not bad for a buck!

I pause here to read over the preamble above and think about my honey telling me all the time that I'm too wordy. True, but as I often counter, "Would you want to buy a book about the sinking of the Titanic to read, 'Ship hits iceberg.  Lots of people drown.  THE END.'?"

 Everything I need to blog "On The Go" fits into this case, smaller than a McDonald's tray.

While the rest of my family members would be lost without their precious iPhones, my allegiances to companies are always far removed from the Apple empire.  So it is with my PC and Windows based netbook and laptop, and thus also with my mobile devices all running Google's Android operating systems.  I like the way all of Google's products tie together and if they're collecting data and using what they learn about me for whatever business purposes might suit them, God bless them.  It costs me nothing to use their services heavily and freely so I'm okay with that. 

The small cable immediately to the left of the red card reader is all it takes to attach a peripheral with a standard USB male plug to an Android device.

I would venture to bet that the vast majority of Android users have no idea what OTG is all about, but with a standard USB female to USB Mini male adapter, there seems to be no end to what peripherals you can plug into an Android device and use!  You’ll notice in the pictures accompanying this post that there are no wires between the keyboard and the mouse running into the tablet which is a Lenovo S8-50F.  They’re both connected to the tablet via Bluetooth.  

So, what’s the thrill about OTG?  For me it’s basically transferring data easily and conveniently when I’m “on the go.”  Unlike many folks I know I can’t stand letting pictures accumulate on my phone or camera card and I regularly download them as soon as I can after an event at which I might have taken many.  I am NOT like so many people, especially females, who’ll grab their phones to show you pictures of their kids (or worse, grand kids) that they might have taken three years ago.  The pictures I want the world to see go on Facebook or get e-mailed to whomever I’d like to see them.  The rest go into storage where, at the moment, I have 81,628 family pictures taken since 1986 when I got my mitts on my first digital camera.  I probably have more than that many in different directories showcasing various other times and events. 

The picture immediately above this one and the paragraph atop it was pulled from the camera's SD card using the card reader plugged into the tablet with the adapter cable
Here’s how the OTG works.  Let’s say I’m away for a four day vacation.  Each day I’ll take bunches of photos (after reminding myself that digital photos are essentially free and that I can shoot as many as I want).  Each evening with the small adapter cable, and a card reader, I’ll download all of the day’s pictures to the tablet.  But, I like redundant backups, so I’ll also use OTG to copy the pictures to an ingenious flash drive made by SanDisk so that there will be copies on the tablet and on the flash drive.  After that I can format the card, stick it back into the camera, and be ready for another day of photography.  And, I can enjoy looking at the day’s gatherings on the screen of the tablet which is much bigger and of a better resolution than the camera’s own stingy disply screen. 

Here’s the flash drive I’m referring to...   

 A button on the side slides one way to expose an mini USB male that plugs into the tablet or the phone to gather data, or to add it if so desired.  Slide the button to the opposite end of the little device, though, and it’s a full sized USB male read to interface with the netbook, laptop, or PC!  Here I am at McD’s with this post in progress.  I took a picture of myself with the camera and within a minute there it was on the screen of the laptop for me to insert right here within the post itself.  (Yes, the camera has built in Wifi and I can pull pictures from it straight to my tablet or phone, but it’s battery intensive so if I’m moving more than just a few files, I use the cable.)  It should be noted that any flash drive can be interfaced with an OTG adapter and used with a compatible Android device.

To be sure, without Bluetooth a full sized PC keyboard, a numeric keypad, and a wireless mouse dongle can be plugged into the Android devices and work automatically without one having to install any kinds of drivers.  If your device is OTG compatible it seems that somehow it just knows what you’ve plugged into it and away it goes with complete functionality.  You can even run, for example, a keyboard AND a mouse with a USB bus. I haven't tried attaching a printer, though, because I can't see a situation where it would be practical to take one with me to a remote location.

Perhaps the most exciting discovery to me is that a full external hard drive can be ported into an Android device.  My entire album of those 81K+ pictures that I’ve taken are on a terabyte drive that stores easily in the case I take with me when I’m in the mood for some OTG action.  That drive is my tertiary redundant backup of all the files I’ve accumulated since I’ve had a PC so with my tablet and its OTG capabilities, I can access anything I might ever need from my past computing history no matter where I go. 

One of my old blog headers from the terabyte hard drive on the right was pulled up within seconds of searching for it.  The tablet's own battery is sufficient to power the external hard drive.

Finally, yes there are other ways to accomplish data transfer from mobile devices to and from each other and with full sized computers, but there are times when circumstances and the unavailability of Wifi connectivity make them less practical than using a physical device to do it.  Besides, I just think that OTG is cool!  If you found this article enlightening and you’d like to give OTG a shot, do be aware that OTG adapter prices vary greatly from place to place.  I think I saw one at Best Buy for over $30 that you can get online for about a buck and a quarter.  Also, it needs to be noted that since Lollipop came out, Android devices can’t write directly to OTG peripherals without a little research and adaptation, but everything one might need to know is out there on Google.


kz1000st said...

Amazing how the world has changed, isn't it Joe? The other day we were sitting in a McDonalds and saw a pay phone outside. We laughed at people actually needing change in their pocket to make a call. Now you can message, text or actually call from anywhere.

Joe said...


We were visiting at the local hospital last week and I noticed two phone booths side by side. I'd predicted to myself that they would be empty and still remaining where they were because their spaces were too small to make into anything else, but to my great surprise each one still had a pay phone in it.


Joe said...

Sorry, "Sheila," I'm not publishing your comment 'cause there's a link to a commercial website in it. I'm not endorsing any business that I don't know and trust.