How can I determine if my device has On-the-Go (OTG) USB Host Mode support?

Posted by: on Oct 10, 2014 | One Comment

Some Android devices can act as an On-the-Go (OTG) USB host, so you can attach other USB devices to them such as DSLR cameras, USB memory sticks, full-size USB keyboard, external GPS units, Wi-Fi devices and more.

Photo courtesy of Tether Tools

How can I tell if my device can do this?

To use an attached USB device you need to have:

  • A USB OTG (USB On-The-Go) cable
  • USB Host Mode drivers loaded on your device
  • A version of the Android operating system loaded on that device that supports USB Host Mode
  • An Android device (eg phone or tablet) that has built-in hardware support for USB Host Mode
  • And finally there need to be drivers on your device, for whatever USB device you’re plugging in.

Operating System

USB Host Mode support was introduced in Android version 3.1 (Honeycomb). Android 3.1, or newer should have the necessary support. Android 4 also adds additional USB and OTG support. It’s worth noting that many third-party ROMs have added support for USB Host Mode to devices that already have hardware support even though the OS or driver doesn’t support it in the official operating system release.

Host Mode Drivers

Most devices that have the proper hardware support along with a newer OS will have all the necessary drivers loaded to enable USB Host Mode. However, some do not. You can visit the Play Store to find driver apps for models that don’t yet have built in drivers. Some models with 3rd party instructions and drivers available are:

Cables

Normal USB cables will not work here because each device will act like either a USB “slave” device (copying images or music to and from PC to phone) or a USB “host” (working like a memory stick) and will need to be told how to act.

Tether Tools USB 2.0 OTG Cable
Tether Tools USB 2.0 OTG Cable

Using a USB OTG (On-the-Go) cable will allow your device to act like a host.

NOTE: Most phones do not have a full-size USB port. So the USB OTG cables will allow for those micro-size USB cables to be used. Currently, Tether Tools offers a USB 2.0 OTG Adapter as well as a USB 3.0 OTG Adapter. By utilizing these adapters, adding a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 extension will allow for a stretch of 15 feet.

USB device drivers

Most common cameras or memory sticks that support PPTP or USB Mass Storage normally are built with the OS to tell the Android phone or tablet what it needs to do when a USB device is connected. Other devices such as Wi-Fi, 3G or Bluetooth may not have the drivers pre-built into the OS.

How to test it

By using USB Host Diagnostics, one can test whether or not all necessary hardware and software is installed. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Install USB Host Diagnostics from the Play Store
  • Run it
  • Tap the Start Diagnostics link, and following the directions first ensure that you have nothing plugged into USB on your device and then plug a device (such as a USB flash drive) in when prompted

USB Host Diagnostics running

  • If everything works you should end up with a summary screen like below, showing firstly a few details about your device and the running OS, then letting you know whether or not your device says that it supports USB Host Mode, and then the all important final Verdict that lets you know whether testing the Host Mode access worked or not:USB Host Diagnostics results screen

If everything is working and the app successfully detected your USB device (showing that your USB Host Mode is working) you should have “Yes”s in the ringed sections, and some details showing how much access 3rd party (ie non-built-in) apps have to the device.

If not, there should be details there to help you track down where the problem is.Alternatively, Chainfire, the author of USB Host Diagnostics, has a (long) listing of all the reports that people have submitted after running the test on their devices. You can look your device up in the list and see if people with your device and operating system version have passed all of the tests, or not. Have a look for your device here: http://usbhost.chainfire.eu/

Source:  Android Enthusiasts

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