Although it may not seem, Android is a very complete system that can be adapted to a number of uses only limited by imagination and hardware. That includes support for all kinds of accessories that can be exploited using the USB OTG function.
Some would not make much sense in mobile or tablets except for strange experiments, but the function is very useful in another type of device. It should be remembered that in some cases you will have to touch the software by changing the ROM or getting root access, all depending on the terminal.
Discover if your mobile is compatible
In general, all Android smartphones launched from 2012 are compatible with USB OTG, given that the operating system gave support for this functionality a year before, with the arrival of Android 3.1. Therefore, if you have a relatively recent phone, it is practically impossible that your device is not compatible with USB On-The-Go technology.
In Google Play there are applications that tell us if a smartphone is, or not, compatible with USB OTG . However, most of them are only based on the version of Android that runs the device in question, and do not take into account their hardware, so they are rather useless.
Today, one of the few utilities that do analyze exhaustively whether a device has, or not with support for this feature, is “OTG?”. It is an extremely simple app, whose function is only to check if the operating system has the function android.hardware.usb.host , and show a result depending on each case.
That’s right, we can handle our terminals with a mouse by connecting a USB mouse , something very common in these times. Only connect the mouse with the adapted de rigor and we can navigate through our terminal.
Android functionality is mostly tactile, which is expected to be very rough navigation and not suitable for day to day, although there are functions such as the mouse wheel that can help us a bit. Personally I have come to use this method for a few days and wish not to be forced to use it with other options.
Connect with the keyboard
We do tandem with the previous peripheral if we want to have a computer with Android as an operating system, experiment that some manufacturers have carried out. Again without too many complications, simply connect a keyboard that does not require installation of special drivers.
The result is the same as in a normal computer, making the keyboard that we have installed us little or nothing. at least the functionality is as well carried as you would expect, but it is only recommended on rare occasions.
A few years ago, portable televisions tried to enter the market, but they did not achieve much success. Now we can try to watch TV from our Android by connecting an antenna .
This is a delicate complement, because we have to make sure it works with the Spanish television frequency and that it includes decoding. It’s a bit cumbersome, but we can make sure to watch TV without spending mobile data when we’re out of our house. Of course, if we are on public transport we must be careful not to get the eye out of someone with the antenna
If you are one of those who do not enjoy mobile pair games because of the complexity of touch controls, connecting an external controller through the USB OTG of the mobile phone can be a fantastic idea. Today, there is a host of accessories of this type, which can be used to play on the mobile to the most famous titles without having to touch the screen at any time.
In addition, usually the price of these controls is relatively small, and thanks to the OTG is extended among all brands and devices in the market, you can use it on any smartphone that you have or that you plan to buy in the future.
Access data from your external hard drive
Although the internal storage of mobile phones continues to grow year after year, and microSD cards do not seem to have any intention of disappearing, it can sometimes be useful to access data stored in an external unit. Thanks to the OTG, it is possible to connect external hard drives or USB drives and access their data.
It is necessary to bear in mind, however, that Android does not include native support for units with NTFS or exFAT format , and in these cases it will be necessary to resort to applications such as Paragon. To avoid problems, it is best to format the unit in an Android compatible file system, such as FAT32 or exFAT.
Level up the audio of your videos with an external microphone
The OTG can also be used to exploit the multimedia capabilities of the phone. If you have a USB microphone for the computer, it is very likely that it is also compatible with your Android phone . And if not, you can always buy a cheap one, which probably offers a better recording quality than the one included in your smartphone.
Connect by cable to the Internet
Yes, on occasion you find yourself in the situation of not having a Wi-Fi network close to which you can connect, and also it is not possible to navigate through the data network – either for lack of coverage, or because you have past MB consumed from your bill-, it never hurts to have an adapter at hand that allows you to connect your smartphone to the wired network. In addition, you can usually enjoy a higher connection speed than if you were connected through the Wi-Fi network.
Print any document without being connected to the Wi-Fi network
Many of the current printers already have Wi-Fi to be able to print documents from other devices connected to the same network. But if you are in the situation of not being able to connect to the network in question, you only need a USB cable to connect the mobile to the printer and transfer the documents you want to print.
Recover data from a mobile phone with a broken screen
If your mobile screen has broken and the touch screen does not work, you can still recover some of the content in case you have not made a full backup. This trick works, even, connecting an iPhone to an Android mobile via USB, as several Reddit users have been able to verify for themselves.
Control your DSLR camera from your mobile
Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and other popular companies specializing in the creation of DSLR cameras, have their own applications for Android that, among other things, allow to control the parameters of each photograph through the mobile. Only a USB cable is needed to connect the camera to the mobile, and the corresponding app depending on the camera. In addition, it will also be possible to pass the captured images directly to the mobile storage , to be able to edit them with your favorite Android photo editor.
Probably it is a use that very few are going to give the USB OTG of their smartphones, but it serves as an example to see all the possibilities offered by this technology. If, for some reason, you have old floppy disks or floppy disks at home , you can use an external reader to access your content through an Android device . The operation, as you can see in the video on these lines, is better than you might expect at first.
These are just some of the uses that can be given to the USB port of an Android mobile thanks to the OTG, but the truth is that the possibilities are endless , since virtually any external peripheral can be connected to an Android device.
Also on iOS
This philosophy, that of using a screen, keyboard and mouse as mobile interaction devices , can also be applied to Android and iOS devices. More easily on Android, but also possible on iPhone devices, with a special interest in Phablet-type terminals such as the iPhone 6 Plus and the 6S Plus.
It is not something new, and it has been possible for some time, but as the processors of mobile phones improve performance, the built-in memory easily reaches 2 GB, 3 GB or even 4 GB, and storage is 32 GB, 64 GB. GB or even 128 GB with the possibility of using high-capacity micro SD cards, it makes more sense to use smartphones for more than just consuming content.
The screen, with cable or WiFi
To make the screen of our mobile phone appear on a TV or a monitor, the simplest procedure is to use a device such as Chromecasts that connect to an HDMI input on the TV or monitor to allow our smartphone to “transmit” the content of the screen or an app to said television or monitor.
In this way, we will have the possibility of working from the sofa in the living room or from a chair in a similar way to how we would work with a computer, except that instead of using a computer, we would be using a smartphone as a processing unit.
There is the option of using an MHL cable to connect the smartphone to the screen using this technology that brings the video to the screen via the microUSB connector as long as the terminal is compatible.
The advantage of Chromecast (or DLNA or Miracast, which are also technologies to bring “the screen” of the smartphone to the TV or a monitor) is that it uses wireless connectivity for it, which allows the terminal to be away from the screen and take advantage of the micro USB connection.
The applications that benefit the most from the use of keyboard, mouse or game controls, are those in which it is required to create contents or interact in a more precise way with our mobile terminal.
For example, if we have a blog, writing a post with only the on-screen keyboard is a tedious task and subject to errors. If we also have to format the text, select, copy or paste, we will miss the mouse within a few minutes. So you will appreciate the possibility of using a keyboard and mouse with your smartphone.
The case of the games is also remarkable. With a gamepad like the consoles, playing on the smartphone can be a much more satisfying experience than using the touch interface.
The good news is that even the controls of the Xbox or PlayStation can be used with the mobile using the USB OTG cable and a USB cable that connects to the game controls.
The applications to which we can take more advantage using keyboard, mouse (and screen if it fits), are those of office type, such as Google Docs, Microsoft Office or those already mentioned for blogging. Others for editing photos or videos, such as Snapseed, are also conveniently handled with the mouse, not to mention web browsing.
After all, the mobiles can work, more and more, in a way similar to a computer. And this requires using more versatile and agile input methods than the touch screen.