On Tuesday Leaf Technology introduced Bridge, the first USB flash drive for file sharing between Android tablets, smartphones, Macs and PCs. It removes the need to use cloud services, cables, Wi-Fi remote apps and other solutions by offering two connectors on one stick -- a standard USB plug on one end and a micro USB on the other – that accesses the same flash storage.
"The memory utilized within Leef Bridge has fast read and write speeds to ensure slick video and music playback directly from the USB drive, without the interruptions or delays that accompany low-grade USB flash drive products," the company said.
Leef Bridge features an exposed slide-and-lock tray which enables users to quickly switch to the USB connector appropriate for their device connection. However it's not compatible with all Android devices: Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" or higher and a micro USB On-The-Go (OTG) port is required. The latter is a specification that allows USB devices to act as a host to attached peripherals like a mouse or flash drive.
"Metago, the company behind ASTRO File Manager has teamed up with Leef to release an updated version of their app that provides users with a seamless experience using Leef Bridge and ASTRO File Manager," the company added. "Although ASTRO File Manager is not required to be able to use Leef Bridge, it is recommended by the Leef design team for its intuitive file management system."
Transferring files to and from Bridge won't be quicker than using a dedicated USB cable, but should be ideal in situations where Wi-Fi and 3G/4G connectivity is out of reach, and users aren't close to their desktop or laptop. Yet it's also easier to carry than a bundled up cable, so users will have to pick their poison.
Unfortunately, a list that shows what devices are compatible with the USB OTG spec is hard to find. Device owners will need to look at the specs on the ODM's website to determine if the micro USB port is compatible. This list is only partial, showing twelve phones including the Motorola DROID Razr, the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S2/S3/S4, the LG Optimus G, Sony Xperia phones and several others. Samsung seems to be the biggest USB OTG supporter in the tablet sector, along with the Acer Iconia Tab, Toshiba Excite 10 and a few others.
Here in the States, Leef Bridge is available for purchase at Amazon and www.2leef.com, costing $17.99 for the 16 GB version and $28.99 for the 32 GB version. A 64 GB model will be released next month, but the pricing is unknown at this point. Leef Bridge is also now available for purchase at leading retailers in several international markets, including Russia, Asia and Central Europe.