Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has been out for a couple of months now, but a change log can only tell you so much about the new features that come with Google’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system. The feature I’m going to go over in this article is the ability to connect a wide array of USB devices to your Android phone (or tablet) using an OTG micro-USB adapter:
Using a mouse on your phone makes you feel as if your phone has transformed into a mini tablet computer right before your eyes as you watch the little blue cursor move around the screen. A single left-click acts as a single tap, while pressing and holding on the left-click button acts as a long press. Is the mouse’s cursor moving to slow for you? No problem, you can simply go into the phone’s settings and adjust cursor’s sensitivity (just like you would on a real computer).
Connecting a keyboard to your phone is probably a little more practical than connecting a mouse (at least on a phone), making it relatively easy to type out an essay on your way to school or sending out a long business e-mail while you are on the go. Keyboard functionality isn’t limited to just character input, you can go back by pressing the “Esc” key and control what you select on the screen using the keyboard’s direction keys and the enter button.
While the ability of connecting any USB mouse and keyboard (not just ones made specifically for it) to your phone is great, what’s even nicer is you can connect also connect a USB flash drive if you root your phone (which can help solve the issue of not having a SD card slot on a phone like the Galaxy Nexus), a Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 controller, and a host of other devices (with more to be supported in the future) to your phone.
Wait.. an Xbox 360 controller? Yes, you read that right. In fact, there are already some games out there that let you use USB controllers. For example, Rockstar’s Max Payne and GTA 3 lets me plug in my Xbox 360 controller to wreak havoc in Liberty City just like I did on my console ten years ago. My hope for the future (of this feature) is that more and more developers start supporting USB devices in their apps and games so we can truly get that computer or console experience right on our phone. And with the age of quad-core processors on phones already here, why shouldn’t we?