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What happened to USB Mass Storage & File Management on Android? [Updated]

Avatar of Mobility Daddy By Mobility Daddy Nov18,2011
Mass Storage & File Management on Android
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Yesterday over at Engadget, Myriam Joire AKA tnkgrl, published her first impressions of the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 (Ice cream Sandwich).

My rant is focused on just one point, and I consider it a major one. In the course of the review, here is something Mariam said:

Using the camera exposed a major flaw in Ice Cream Sandwich, namely the lack of USB mass storage support (only media / picture transfer protocols are available). We can only hope this standard functionality will be restored in the very near future.

There. Hope you read it clearly. First it was Apple, then Microsoft, and now Google. Everyone is leaving USB mass storage functionality and file management out of their mobile OS. And we are talking of smartphones replacing or becoming more like PCs?

I want to organize my files, but I can’t. Also, I want to select a specific location for each download; oh, I can’t. I want to plug my smartphone to a PC and copy certain files from one location to another, but I can’t.

I want to copy not just music and video files that some stupid synchronization software recognizes, but all sorts of files, for storage on my smartphone. I can’t.

Mass Storage & File Management on Android

Possible Reasons?

To avoid Microsoft license fees? Nonsense. Pay the damn fees and let’s have this feature. Oh, and is Microsoft scared of their own patents too? Sheesh.

Performance and stability? Cripes; file management is not rocket science. It works excellently on Symbian and on MeeGo. It worked smoothly on Windows Mobile (remember that dinosaur?).

Why can it not work nicely on our GHz-toting super-phones?


I have been aching at the lack of file management and mass storage on Windows Phone and telling myself that I may have to go Android eventually, in spite of some of its other niggles. iOS? No mass storage cum file management either. This generation of nicely dressed up dumbphones!

Now, Google’s doggone thrown this out too; right? If this is true, what are we left with? Where are the choices?

Looks like I’m going to die using a Symbian or MeeGo smartphone. What I’ll do is buy about five more Nokia N8s, two more N9s, and a number of the upcoming 1GHz+ Symbian devices – enough to last me till 2071 when hopefully I’ll be too old to care anymore – or be dead.

More Information Coming

Understand that what is going on with Android 4.0 (ICS) is not totally clear now. The details, the reasons, and the prospects are all pretty much still shrouded. But I needed to rant.

Don’t pay me any bit of attention. No-one does anyway. In the next few days and weeks, we should get the full picture.

Still, you must wonder whether smartphones are really becoming more like PCs or not. At least in certain ways.

Read Tnkgrl’s review: Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ first impressions (video)

Update on USB Mass Storage and File Management

Here’s the true picture of the scenario, as pulled out of the comments section (read through the comments for full details):

Android as an OS still supports UMS but it is left for OEMs (device makers) to include that functionality in their devices. The functionality was disabled in the Galaxy Nexus, but nothing stops any manufacturer from including mass storage support in their phones. So, ask before you buy.

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By Mobility Daddy

Founder, MobilityArena. Way back from the days of EPOC, Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems, I have owned a few hundred smartphones and tablets, and counting.

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