What is OTG ‘On The Go’ and can I connect USB devices to Android?

OTG or ‘On-The-Go’ let’s you connect various USB devices to your mobile device as if it were a regular IBM compatible PC computer.

 

The OTG seems to be a feature that not many people know about when it comes to using your mobile device and it is exclusive to android. So if your planning on trying this on your apple device then think again.

USB OTG cable

What can you connect through OTG?

Imagine connecting any these peripherals to your mobile phone or tablet:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Flash drives such as SD cards (with a USB reader), External hard drives and thumb/pen drives
  • USB gaming controller
  • USB accessories such as a fan or LED light
  • LAN cable for use when no wifi is available
  • USB sound card
  • DSLR Camera
  • USB Printer
  • Bluetooth dongle. For use with BT mice/keyboards etc
  • Audio amplifier
These are just the idea’s that I had come up with but there maybe other uses too. If you’re planning on connecting multiple peripherals at the same time then a USB hub can be used. 

On top of all that, we can also charge a device’s battery from another device!

 

What do I need for OTG?

It really doesn’t take much to utilize this feature at all. 

 

An OTG cable can be bought from Ebay or Amazon for as little as 1 or 2 dollars and in most cases this is all you will need. 

 

There are some people out there who build their own cable but for the cost of a manufactured cable then I really wouldn’t bother doing this unless I was in a pinch.

 

I actually bought a pack of 3 cables from an Ebay seller as the price was so low, and you never know when a cable is going to go bad on you. As in my experience when you buy a cheap cable then you really do get a cheap cable. 

 

It may last a month, or it may just last a day. However these cables seem to be of a good quality and they have not let me down.. yet.

 

The cables that I usually see are very short, and sometimes this is a let down as you may need a longer cable for some reason or another but for the most part, a shot cable will be suitable.

 

There really isn’t any kind of proprietary connects on the cable. Just a standard ‘micro USB male’ to a standard ‘USB type A’ female connector as seen in the image above.

 

There maybe some situations where you may need to root your android device to gain some extra functionality.

Conclusion

It’s understandable that most of us won’t ever need to connect a keyboard and mouse to our phone at any time in the near future but it is certainly well worth knowing that this is possible.

 

I hope this has given you a good insight into what OTG has available for android and if you find yourself with one of these cables then maybe you will discover something I haven’t mentioned here!

 

Don’t forget to have fun 🙂

 

 

A note for Arduino users

If you’re thinking about flashing your sketch into your Arduino from your phone then I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much. 

 

There are tools out there but to keep up to the official Arduino IDE capabilities then the android app will need to have all the necessary libraries, depending on your sketch. 

 

I found this out the hard way during a project I was working on, but if you find an IDE app with these libraries then great!

 

Another note to point out here is that you will also need to supply extra power to your Arduino as the power from the Android device its self just won’t be enough in most cases.

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