USB hack connects Droid to printers, video cams, and more
Any device Linux can tap...
A reverse engineering expert has disclosed a way to make his Motorola Droid host USB-enabled devices, a hack that allows the smartphone for the first time to directly connect to printers, video cameras, TV tuners, and a wide variety of other peripherals.
Using a charging cable that plugs into a car's cigarette lighter, a micro-USB cable, and a USB extender cable, he devised an improvised micro-dongle and connector cable. Getting the Droid to work with a Linux-enabled USB device is as simple as turning the smartphone off, connecting the cable to the host and peripheral and turning the Droid on. As soon as the Motorola logo disappears, you'll need to unplug the micro-dongle.
Once your Droid is booted - voila -it should now work with the device. You can even pull up a terminal and look at dmesg to see the usual kernel notifications that appear when new USB devices are connected.
To be sure, the Droid isn't the most robust of USB hosts. To change peripherals, you'll need to reboot the smartphone. What's more, leaving the micro-dongle plugged in too long causes the port to get stuck supplying power to devices but not actually recognizing them.
Or as Paget put it in an email: "The capability is now there but it'll take a while to realise it - I haven't even managed to mount a USB key yet."
But the simple mod opens a whole new world to the Droid, since the smartphone will be able to work with hundreds of devices that up to now have been off limits. And besides, the hack is likely to get better over time.
"Hopefully the drivers are sufficiently open-source that these are easy bugs to squash, and that dynamically switching between host mode and peripheral mode won’t be too hard to add either," Paget writes. Pictures and additional details are here. ®
You're the counter-in-tuat
"For starters, hardwiring a mobile device to peripherals is counter-intuative!"
Even accounting for the spelling mistake, that makes no sense. First up, they aren't hardwiring anything. If you follow the link, what you get is a picture of an *external interface* that allows you to plug in devices. They may not be hot-swappable, but they're certainly cold-swappable. That's a bit different from "hardwired".
And what's "counterintuitive" about wanting to plug your digital cameraphone straight into a printer? Think about all the money the various camera/printer companies ploughed into Easyshare, DirectPrint, PictBridge and the like -- people want direct-from-camera printing, and I'm personally a bit surprised Google didn't see fit to support and sell that as feature out of the box.
It would also fit with making the Android a business phone -- carry your docs with you and print on demand (but only with the sysadmin's permission in the form of a central security policy, naturally).
Denial: There is an app for that too!
Oh! Does the IPad have USB???????
Another nail in the coffin for it!
Along with the price, the 4:3 screen, the lack of 3g....the list goes on
Off Limits ?
Most devices are capable of doing far more than what they are delivered to do, it's just a case of working out how to enable and use what exists but isn't utilised - in some cases that can be far harder than in others. Console, USB even Ethernet access on some devices is simply soldering a connector or some components on a PCB, in other cases a pure software solution can be found, sometimes a mix.
I'll echo the "Why is it so hard?" sentiments of Cameron Colley but, from a commercial perspective; why spend time implementing what isn't needed commercially, plus then having to document, support and bug fix that ?
Commercial products are simply that, devices which do a particular job for a particular market the manufacturer perceives, not a general purpose platform for whatever users may want.
There's a whole market for 'hackers' out there who re-purpose devices to do something beyond their sold-as capabilities ( digital picture frames as PC displays, routers as web servers etc ). It would be nice if commercial producers leant over backwards towards helping them do that, but one cannot expect them to do so if they cannot justify that in commercial terms.
Reality is that we sometimes expect manufacturers to 'give us everything' but usually don't want to pay for them doing that. Ultimately it's 'them' making the things, not 'us'. C'est la vie.
Perhaps people who don't like what is delivered should go into business themselves to deliver what it is they think that should be ? No ? Then why expect anyone else to ?
The guy who created it happened to be hired by Apple after they started using it in 10.2 which was about 5 years post its creation.