What Does Ice Cream Sandwich Mean For USB Mass Storage?
We just told you about one of the bugs that new Galaxy Nexus owners have been noticing, with a wonky volume control causing chaos. Another unusual behavior some users noted turns out not to be a bug at all, but a reflection of the new way Ice Cream Sandwich treats storage; what’s been altered, and how will it affect how you access files on your phone?
Galaxy Nexus owners were confused when trying to connect their phones to a PC and realizing the handset didn’t support USB Mass Storage. It wasn’t clear at first if this was an Android 4.0 limitation, or one specific to the device, until Google’s Dan Morril set things straight on Reddit.
The gist of it is that with Ice Cream Sandwich, you’re only going to be able to enter USB Mass Storage mode on phones that support SD cards. Because ICS, like Honeycomb, treats its primary storage as one, big, unified partition, it can’t be unmounted while the phone is running a prerequisite for USB Mass Storage, since the PC needs exclusive access to the part of the flash it’s accessing.
Now, there are plenty of other ways to access phone storage over USB, like MTP, that will work just fine on any Ice Cream Sandwich device, regardless of storage configuration. Then again, that’s not exactly a perfect solution, as MTP support on computers isn’t as widespread as basic USB functionality, but we suppose it will do.