The Real Reason Why MicroSD Cards Are Making A Comeback On Android
For a “more acceptable” Dark Android Project device, I recommend a MicroSD card slot be included. This is a for a few reasons:
- It allows for cheap expandable storage (duh).
- It makes it easier to install custom ROM’s/operating systems by loading them onto the MicroSD card.
Yes, my top choice for a Dark Android device is the 2013 Nexus 7 or the Nexus 9, and neither of those come with a MicroSD slot, but that’s not as much an issue since Google offers fair onboard storage options, and Nexus devices can be easily side-loaded from a PC. But none of that is true for most Android devices. So generally, you want a MicroSD slot.
Ironically, and perhaps it’s in response to the above reasons, MicroSD card slots have been disappearing from phones for a couple of years (and iPhones have never had them). At the 2016 Mobile World Congress, though, it seems like the MicroSD card slot is making a comeback. Part of that may have to do with the Android operating system’s new abilities to take advantage of a MicroSD card slot (which is also a flip-flop from previous versions of Android that were limiting the use of MicroSD cards), but I think there may be a new feature that could explain manufacturer’s renewed interest in the technology: Not just storage expansion…but feature expansion.
The SD Association–the body in charge of standards for SD cards of a stripes and sizes–has recently announced a new standard/ability for MicroSD cards: The ability to add in mobile wallet technology into a phone that didn’t originally have it. And that’s just one example for this new card capability, called “SmartSD”. SmartSD would also allow for MicroSD cards to be used as authentication tokens, and more.
I’m actually pretty excited by both of features I described that SmartSD can provide. First off, if MicroSD-based hardware wallets can be created for various cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin or the amazing Zcash), that would allow for wallets to be non-phone specific, even though they would still work in concert with a wallet app. I’m sure the SD Association didn’t have that in mind, but I do.
The other feature of using a MicroSD card as hardware authentication is equally exciting. Without having to put in password after password on various apps, you could just use a custom MicroSD card as a FIDO-style key to allow you to instantly log in, and the passwords never have to even get put into the app and potentially get stored in plaintext on the device.
I’m speaking in generalities here, but there are some wild ideas that could be implemented in to a MicroSD thanks to SmartSD technology. And all of it could be put onto a card that–as I understand it–could still function as a storage expansion device, as well. All in all, it can also help future proof smartphones by giving them the option to add on abilities (not unlike LG’s G5 “Magic Slot”).
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on SmartSD developments and consider how they can be used for greater device ability and security for Dark Android.