Sep 02, 2014

What is an OTG cable?

I saw a reference to an OTG cable in an answer to an older question. So…what’s is an OTG cable and what do you use it for?


OTG means On the go. The most common one we use is when we use a PC, which acts as a host, and connect a USB flash drive or a smartphone to it. With the introduction of more devices being OTG compatible, you can now bypass the PC: photos can be sent directly from your camera to a printer, a keyboard can be connected directly to a mobile device, or a USB stick can be connected to a smartphone.  One of the easiest ways to figure out whether you have a device that is USB OTG compatible is to look for the following USB logo with green arrow.

USB On-The-Go

"USB On-The-Go, often abbreviated to USB OTG or just OTG, is a specification first used in late 2001, that allows USB devices such as digital audio players or mobile phones to act as a host, allowing other USB devices like a USB flash drive, digital camera, mouse, or keyboard to be attached to them. Use of USB OTG allows these devices to switch back and forth between the roles of host and client devices. For instance, a mobile phone may read from removable media as the host device, or present itself as a USB Mass Storage Device when connected to a host computer.

In other words, USB On-The-Go introduces the concept that a device can perform both the master and slave roles – whenever two USB devices are connected and one of them is a USB On-The-Go device, they establish a communications link. Whichever device controls that link is called the master or host, while the other is called the slave or peripheral."

An OTG cable is an “On The Go” cable. It has different size USB connectors on the end, so that you can connect a variety of devices with different USB connectors. Generally they are male micro-USB to USB, but sometime they include other connectors. OTGs are useful because the size of the USB port on tablets and smartphones isn’t the same as those on most laptops and desktops, making it harder to use standard cables to connect the them. 

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