How to Connect Portable USB Devices

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Accessories can help you connect USB devices or transfer media to and from your iPhone or iPad.

For devices their size, today’s tablets and smartphones pack in a lot of power. This makes them veritable mini computers for doing all sorts of tasks that used to be the domain of desktops and laptops.

This is especially true for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, which benefit from a wide range of apps. Whether it be quick and dirty photo and movie editing or even music composition, creative folks can do a lot with Apple’s devices.

Add the fact that you can use it to post or share stuff online and there are many reasons you users would want to transfer all sorts of media to their iOS devices.

Thanks to its use of proprietary ports — whether it be the old 30-pin system or the new Lightning connection — transferring media to and from an iPhone or iPad hasn’t always been an intuitive proposition. The same can be said about accessories and peripherals that rely on a standard USB connector. Here’s a list of ways to move files or connect USB gadgets to Apple’s portable devices.

ADAPTERS AND CABLES

Like killing the proverbial two birds with one stone, adapters and cables allow users to both transfer media and connect USB devices to an iPhone or iPad.

Whether it be Apple’s official Camera Adapter or third-party offerings, the  basic adapter cable features either a 30-pin or Lightning connector on one end and a standard USB port on the other.

The idea is to plug one side to your tablet or smartphone then use the port on the other side to plug your USB device.

For its part, Apple markets its adapter as a way to transfer pictures. It’s a function that the adapter certainly does well, allowing you to bypass a computer and transfer files directly from a camera.

One less touted feature of such adapters, however, involve the use of peripherals such as USB MIDI keyboards and microphones. This is great for folks who want to use their regular USB peripherals without having to buy versions specifically locked to Apple’s proprietary connector. It’s also a nice option for folks who want a wired connection for their peripherals as opposed to a wireless one.

Just note that this use is not officially considered a capability for the adapter so you’ll want to make sure that your peripheral actually works as compatibility can be hit or miss at times.

MOBILE MEMORY DEVICES

If you’re not interested in connecting USB peripherals and just want to transfer files, portable memory sticks or devices are another option. These devices typically feature two connectors. One can be a Lightning connector for linking with an iPod, iPhone or iPad. The other is a regular USB connector for use with a laptop or desktop PC. These devices also come with built in memory for storing media. Just load your pics or movies from a PC, for example, connect to your Apple device and you’re good to go. You can also move files from your iPhone or iPad into the devices then transfer them to a computer.

But that’s not all. In addition to being able to transfer files or media, these portable gadgets also allow you to play video directly from the memory stick or device on your iPhone or iPad. Some even let you play file formats that Apple’s gadgets normally don’t play unless you download certain apps. These include not just AVI but MKV files as well. Examples include the Sandisk iExpand and the Leef iBridge Mobile Memory stick.

WIRELESS OPTIONS

Another way to transfer files or connect gadgets is to bypass the physical connection itself and go the wireless route.

Many peripherals feature either Bluetooth or AirPlay connectivity, for example. These include keyboards of the typing kind such as the Rapoo E6300 and Verbatim Wireless Mobile Keyboard or MIDI keyboards for music like the Korg Microkey 25 and iRig Keys.

For file transfers, wireless memory sticks or dongles are another option. The Sandisk Connect flash drive, for example, allows you to wirelessly link with an iPhone or iPad and transfer documents, music, pictures and videos to your Apple device.