When the Nexus 7 was released, everyone highlighted all of its superior qualities but there was one negative which seemed to spring up everywhere – the lack of external storage. With only one input for micro-USB and no SD card slot, we were limited to whatever size we decided to buy. Personally, I went with the now-discontinued 8GB model, so I have about 6GB to fit everything I want — roughly three films could stop me from downloading anything else. But even the 16GB version can filled quite quickly.
So, as the Android community normally does, they found a way to bypass this problem. This fix comes in the form of Nexus Media Importer, an app that allows you to easily transfer or play files from an external storage device. Read on to find out how useful it can be.
Firstly, you’ll need to download the Nexus Media Importer application — this costs £1.88. To be honest, it is a very minimal cost and the app is worth investing a few pounds into.
The next thing you will need is an OTG cable which has a micro-USB plug and an USB host on the other end. These can be picked up cheaply on Amazon for around £2 — for example check this one: OTG USB Host Cable. These can probably be found cheaper, but for £2, I don’t think anyone will be complaining too much. Your total cost is never even going to break the £5 mark making this a cheap process for anyone.
Range of USB drives (Left) and OTG cables (Right).
Using the Application
Before we delve into the app, I should make it clear that Nexus Media Importer doesn’t require rooting, software mods, or anything that would void your warranty.
Once you’ve plugged in your USB device with the OTG cable, the app will automatically detect that you have a new storage attached and will give you the option to explore it. The app’s interface is divided into 6 tabs. The first four are: Photos, Videos, Music and Docs. Depending on their type, files are automatically categorised into each of these tabs, and made available for viewing.
Viewing pictures off an SD card reader.
However, if your device can’t open a certain type of file, you have the option to create a temporary copy on your internal memory so that you can access it from other apps. Once you’ve selected your file, you can click the save button at the top of the page which will download it.
Exploring a USB drive on Nexus Media Importer.
The final two tabs are Folders and Advanced. Folders will allow you to explore the external storage device as you would normally in any file browser, going through separate folders and files. Advanced will allow you to compare your USB drive storage to your Nexus’ internal storage.
Using a basic USB stick isn’t the extent of the app’s capability. You can plug in SD card readers to view and save pictures on the go from a camera. External hard drives are also an option, giving the tablet the ability to read and use up to 1TB of data. Nexus Media Importer isn’t just limited to tablets either. You could just as quickly plug the OTG cable into your phone and use the app to increase its storage for a low price.
Basically, the things you can do with this application are endless. Try and experiment with different devices — you may just surprise yourself.
For all the good things I’ve said about it, Nexus Media Importer isn’t perfect and suffers from some weaknesses which may put users off. The first is that this will only work with devices that are on Android 3.2 and above. The developers recommend downloading Nexus Photo Viewer, a free app, first so that you can see if the hardware will actually work. However, if you’re using a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 or Motorola Xoom, you should be covered.
The next issue is that you can’t transfer files from your device to the external USB storage — the app will only allow you to do it the other way around. This means that if you want to move files off your device, you’ll have to go through the process of using a computer. Another limit to keep in mind is that using external hard drives will require a different type of OTG cable which provides the extra power to allow it to run, such as this one.
And the final issue is that when Nexus Media Importer fails to open a file, you have to download it or temporarily copy it to your internal storage to be able to open it.
You will need to transfer some files to your device to be able to open them.
Despite its limitations, Nexus Media Importer lets you access external storage over OTG Micro-USB cables, thus helping you increase the storage limit on phones and tablets that suffer from the lack of an SD card slot. This comes off handy on the Nexus line, giving you an option for additional storage without having to pay for a higher capacity device.