Nexus Media Importer: A Savior For Nexus Users

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.


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Setting Up and Costs

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).

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.

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.

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.

Possibilities?

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.

Limits

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.

You will need to transfer some files to your device to be able to open them.

Wrap-Up

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.


Summary

Nexus Media Importer allows you to expand your device's storage capacity by using a simple OTG microUSB to USB-host cable.

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  • Albert

    Does not worm on my Nexus 7. Not photo viewer or media importer. I tried both. Used SD USB stick and external hard drives with own power supply. I even tried different format fat32 and so on. Nothing seems to help.

    • rap

      I’ve heard the cable is often the problem with Nexus 7. A lot of the OTG cables don’t work. I’ve heard good things about the ones from ebay seller itrimming. I just got one but unfortunately my Nexus 7 is in for warranty repair :(

  • Nexuser

    I went through 2 cables before I got one that works. Install the photo viewer app and then carry a USB and your nexus. Try out the cable before you buy. I got lucky and the cable I bought form Amazon worked.

    • Samuel Scott

      Same here. Look a quick look on reviews on Amazon and saw others had my device and it had worked.

      Samuel

      • Mahad Cheema

        photo viewer works for me but the media importer doesn’t. help me please.

  • fatguy

    I got my OTG cable from an Amazon vendor. Although the micro USB on the cable is too long and therefore does not have a good fit with my N7 the cable works just fine. With a little bit of good ol’ American ingenuity I was able to get it to fit more snugly. It works great with flash drives but I couldn’t get it to work with my powered external hard drive. I’m still hoping that I’ll be able to figure out a fix for that.

    • Samuel Scott

      Great work! :) Erm, I’m not sure on external hard drives. I read that you need a powered OTG cable but as your external hard drive is powered I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. But Good Luck, sorry for not being much help :)

      Samuel

  • dp

    does this app work in samsung galaxy s advance(aftr upgrading to jelly bean)

    • Samuel Scott

      It should work, however, before buying the app you can test through a free app. Follow this link: http://goo.gl/hFVNy

      Hopefully this helped.

      Samuel

  • suraj

    Please help guys

    i have nexus 7 and i bought a otg cable and downloaded the nexus media importer.I connected my usb and the app opens and then after some time it stops saying “timed out in wait device ready() “….:(

    • Mahad Cheema

      same for me. can’t get any help either. mouse and other usb hardware is working though. HELPP (nexus photo viewer works for me though)

      • Andy Bridges

        I had a similar issue – waiting for media/timeout. I switched to a different USB card reader and voila! it worked fine after that – streams movies, music, and photos. Failed with Sandisk Cruzer SDCZ1, worked with Sandisk Micromate SDDR-113. Hope that helps.

  • Fritze

    I have Nexus 7, cable and nexus media importer. But whenever I connect my usb or harddrive, nexus media importer always stopped working. Please help me!

  • Jaimee Diggins

    I used to have the disk icon at the top of the screen that would upload selected photos to my gallery. That is now gone and it only allows me to “copy” to my storage area. How do I get the other way back so the photos go to my gallery?

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