Google’s Matias Duarte: microSD cards are too confusing for Nexus consumers

Google’s Matias Duarte: microSD cards are too confusing for Nexus consumersAndroid User Experience Director, Matias Duarte, recently made headlines when he suggested/admitted that Android was only a “third of the way” to where he wanted it to be.

Now the talented chap is answering questions over on his Google+ account, and one interesting demand he chose to address is: “Why don’t Nexus devices have SD cards?”

That’s partly in reference to the three new Nexus devices announced on Monday, namely the Nexus 4 from LG, Nexus 7 32GB from Asus, and Nexus 10 from Samsung. Of course, the Google Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus didn’t have microSD compatibility either.

The lack of microSD support is also a common complaint levelled at Apple devices, while Windows Phone 8 welcomes microSD.

“Everybody likes the idea of having an SD card, but in reality it's just confusing for users,” begins Duarte. Well, confusing for some, but a deal-breaker for others. Need more than 16GB storage on your smartphone? Forget about the Nexus 4.

Duarte continues: “If you’re saving photos, videos or music, where does it go? Is it on your phone? Or on your card? Should there be a setting? Prompt everytime? What happens to the experience when you swap out the card? It’s just too complicated.

“We take a different approach. Your Nexus has a fixed amount of space and your apps just seamlessly use it for you without you ever having to worry about files or volumes or any of that techy nonsense left over from the paleolithic era of computing.”

What do you think? Are you happy with Matias’ explanation?

Read more about: Google Nexus 10Google Nexus 4Google Nexus 7Android

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40 comments

drunken_prozac  Oct. 31, 2012 at 18:04

to be totally honest he sounds like an idiot :o)

Pondlife  Oct. 31, 2012 at 18:15

"while Windows Phone 8 welcomes microSD."

But not on the high end Nokia or HTC phones though the Nokia does have more storage (so far)

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 31, 2012 at 18:27

Fixed storage is sooooo cool when you're phone doesn't boot and you have to take it to the repair shop... NOT! And 'free' cloud storage? Yay....great when you're away from WiFi and Sandy kills your webz.

barrybarryk  Oct. 31, 2012 at 18:33

Most phones aimed at businesses won't have SD card slots. Businesses don't like removable media on site. Anywhere.

That said there's no real excuse for consumer devices ignoring it, even on Android phones with SD card slots it's a pain to use. Hell you need to root the damn thing just to move most apps to it. There's a lot more work needed on the OS side of things before it works like it's supposed to, and I'm pretty sure their 'multiple accounts' stuff is BS too, the internal memory structure is far too convoluted at this stage to separate everything properly. It's in need of radical simplification.

But he really, really shouldn't be blaming it on confused users

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 31, 2012 at 18:46

barrybarryk,
really? Until 2007 practically ALL business phones were BBs, WinMo and Symbian... practically ALL models had SD cards. What did I miss?

barrybarryk  Oct. 31, 2012 at 18:57

Security happened. Any company with a half decent security policy won't allow any removable media, I know we've sacked people for carrying SD cards and USB memory sticks on the spot, it's gross misconduct these days.

It's why MS made windows 8 so it can be locked remotely, no apps, no removable media, hell with a recent version of exchange server they can't even copy & paste from emails they dont want them to.

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 31, 2012 at 18:59

Security happened. Any company with a half decent security policy won't allow any removable media, I know we've sacked people for carrying SD cards and USB memory sticks on the spot, it's gross misconduct these days.

It's why MS made windows 8 so it can be locked remotely, no apps, no removable media, hell with a recent version of exchange server they can't even copy & paste from emails they dont want them to.


Okay. Thanks. Is that common? (not here in Ireland, that's for sure ;) )

barrybarryk  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:07

well not in your average company, but definitely in bigger companies particularly when there's server access and stuff like that. And I'm in Belfast lol

But I'm normally working for tech companies so it's ridiculously common there

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:09

Right. Thanks.

Amin  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:12

isn't it just pathetically easy to ping data to your own private cloud without having to carry removable storage around if your intentions are malicious?


Back to the point, i can see how it could be confusing for the mainstream that Google is now targeting. but its a deal breaker for me almost.

Nealio  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:17

None of the things he cites are valid arguments against having a microSD slot.

Personally, MY 'experience' is marred overall by lack of storage space.

So you say SOME users MAY find it confusing. Fine, so give the devices a MicroSD slot but don't prepopulate it with a card.

Users who know what they're doing and want extra storage are happy. Those who don't need more storage or don't understand it just won't put a card in. Where's the problem?

Or am I missing something?

barrybarryk  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:19

isn't it just pathetically easy to ping data to your own private cloud without having to carry removable storage around if your intentions are malicious? Have you ever tried it on a workstation? If they have a network team enforcing any sort of security policy worth a damn they'd call the cops and shut it down as soon as you go off their network.

I'm not talking about mom and pops computer repair shop here, I'm talking about companies like Citi group, Fujitsu, Allstate etc. The information on their network is worth millions and they do a really good job protecting it

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:20

None of the things he cites are valid arguments against having a microSD slot.

Personally, MY 'experience' is marred overall by lack of storage space.

So you say SOME users MAY find it confusing. Fine, so give the devices a MicroSD slot but don't prepopulate it with a card.

Users who know what they're doing and want extra storage are happy. Those who don't need more storage or don't understand it just won't put a card in. Where's the problem?

Or am I missing something?


Agree. Also: most smartphones now have set-up 'tutorials' built in... a little pop-up first time you use apps that rely on storage... TBH, the guy sounds as though he ate Jobs' biography for breakfast. With a dash of Elop on the side.

Nealio  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:22

As for the hardline removable media security policies, it's the first I've heard of it. And I work for a tech corporation that is frequently in the top 3 largest in the world.

I think they'd say they have pretty robust IP security policies/measures.

barrybarryk  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:27

Yeah I'm a freelance DBA, I'm in and out of all sorts of companies on an almost monthly basis. We generally get searched before entering a server room, I can't even take an MP3 player into most of the places I work never mind a phone, if an SD card fell out of my pocket they'd **** a brick. We're talking places that don't even let people have paper on the desk so they can't take down personal information.

Pondlife  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:28

Well what relevance is that then if they won't let you have any phone...

jaybear88  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:28

I know of at least one major compant in Ireland with that approach Jan (that said, it's an international company). What Barry says is correct, a lot of companies are incredibly strict on it, especially if there is confidential data to be had. Another reason is virus', not much point in setting up an intranet to keep the big bad internets away if you're going to allow your employees to stick in their porn filled memory sticks ;)

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:30

As for the hardline removable media security policies, it's the first I've heard of it. And I work for a tech corporation that is frequently in the top 3 largest in the world.

I think they'd say they have pretty robust IP security policies/measures.


I can't quite fathom the difference between a USB key and a fixed memory smartphone with
MTP or Mass Storage in terms of security, tbh... But then - what do I know :p

Three words: Stratfor - Sabu - FBI (dang, is FBI one word?)

jaybear88  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:33

Presumed he meant using the phone that doesn't have sd card slot.

Blanket policies unfortunately. No phones, full stop.

To give you an idea of the attitude in these places, I had to wear multiple lanyards, one of which had the serial numbers of every piece of tech under my name so I could be spot checked by security and everything had to be accounted for. The cards were also colour coded according to the doors I could open/tech I could touch and that's ignoring the RFID tags built into the lanyards and keycodes that were needed everywhere.

Pondlife  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:37

Well there we go then how is this relevant to whether a phone has an sd slot or not if they just won't allow phones at all?

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:45

Well there we go then how is this relevant to whether a phone has an sd slot or not if they just won't allow phones at all?

Good question....

jaybear88  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:46

Because the people who are in charge of security don't understand the tech :P

barrybarryk  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:51

Because the idea is to limit where the data is stored and how it's transferred. Company phones are ok because if you're sacked they'll take it off you. All that hardly matters if you've got an SD card that isn't paired to the phone so you can use it to transfer all the confidential emails and data you like to another device.

Pondlife  Oct. 31, 2012 at 19:59

I think as much as anything it's a matter of controlling the os environment, seen many cases where faulty sd cards have made people think their phone is broken with apps crashing etc.
Can control the speed of the memory and ensure that it's not compromising the os and other apps speed.

Given that memory is so cheap though I think they should include more if not as a default then as an option at reasonable additional cost.

Pondlife  Oct. 31, 2012 at 20:03

Because the idea is to limit where the data is stored and how it's transferred. Company phones are ok because if you're sacked they'll take it off you. All that hardly matters if you've got an SD card that isn't paired to the phone so you can use it to transfer all the confidential emails and data you like to another device.

Makes no sense as you could send the data from a non sd equipped phone as easily. Surely they'd take the card too regardless. It seems backwards nonsense and an irrelevance to the topic.

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