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Samsung Galaxy Nexus won't play in-car USB audio

The poor Samsung Galaxy Nexus can't catch a break -- we've just discovered it doesn't let you play USB audio over your car speakers. WTH?


The Samsung Galaxy Nexus can't catch a break at the moment. Earlier this week, the Ice Cream Sandwich-packing superphone was revealed to have a very annoying volume bug, and today we've discovered it doesn't allow you to play USB audio over your car speakers. WTH?

It's all down to the fact the Galaxy Nexus doesn't support USB Mass Storage (UMS), so it can't function in quite the same way as a USB thumb drive, as many phones can. This leaves you with just three options for playing in-car music -- purchasing a clunky auxiliary cable, connecting via the highly compressed, battery-draining magic of Bluetooth A2DP streaming, or buying a different phone.

Why no UMS support? It's down to the fact the Galaxy Nexus uses a 'unified storage system', a data-management method first introduced in Android Honeycomb that mixes apps and storage data together in a single partition. That means you have more space for apps than previous Nexus phones, which don't have expandable storage.

But UMS and single partitions aren't always a great idea, because UMS is a block-level protocol that allows the host (your PC or car) direct access to the physical blocks of storage in your device. When this occurs, your phone isn't able to access the data it requires and throws a right royal wobbly.

Instead of UMS, the Galaxy Nexus uses Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), which allows Windows PCs the ability to browse files exactly as they would a normal disk. Sadly, car stereos have't caught up and there are relatively few models that allow you play tracks via MTP.

As we said, there are clear upsides to using a UMS-free unified storage system -- you'll never encounter the issue of your data partition becoming full up while you still have gigabytes upon gigabytes of free, inaccessible storage on your apps partition (or vice versa).

But Samsung and Google could have avoided this issue by fitting the Galaxy Nexus with a microSD card slot, as this would have provided a separate, UMS-ready partition that's playable in cars -- and potentially trebles the phone's storage.

Let us know if you've been affected by any of the Galaxy Nexus' issues in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.