Google’s Matias Duarte explains lack of SD cards in Nexus devices

October 30, 2012
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There's certainly a lot of excitement surrounding Google's new line up of Nexus devices, and Android director of user services Matias Duarte has hopped on Google Plus to answer the questions Nexus fans undoubtedly have. Android users took him up on his offer to answer questions on these new Nexus devices, with hundreds posting comments to his Google Plus profile. At the time of this writing, Duarte has only gotten around to answering two questions, but the two answers he's given are definitely worth noting.

Duarte explained Google's motivation for switching up the status bar and system button with Android 4.2 devices, stating that Google wanted users to have a consistent Android experience across the majority of screens. Duarte says that Google's utility research found that muscle memory is important, as users will expect the buttons to be in the same place regardless of the device's orientation. With Android 4.2, Google has made it so the system bar will always keep those three buttons in the same place, though while this happens "dynamically for every screen size," he does point out that these new system bar updates won't apply to small handheld screens (read: phones). The reason for this is that having the status bar stretch across the screen horizontally while in landscape mode would leave too little vertical space.

He also explained why Google seems to shy away from including microSD slots on its Nexus devices, which has always been a major annoyance for consumers. According to Duarte, including microSD slots makes things "confusing for users." He brought up a litany of questions that come along with using microSD cards on mobile devices - "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?" - and concluded that they just make things too complicated. We're not sure users would agree with that, but at least now we have Google's reasoning for not including microSD slots on its devices.

In the time since posting those answers, Duarte's Google Plus profile has received dozens more questions, but for now, it looks like he won't be answering most of those. Still, at least he explained two pretty important things concerning Android 4.2 and Nexus devices. What do you think of his explanation for why Google leaves microSD slots out of the equation?


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  • rahlquist

    You’re not smart enough to handle multiple storage devices! Let alone external ones! #android #googletards

  • SFJeep

    no SD card slot = deal breaker. “…you know exactly how much storage you get upfront…” i.e, you are LOCKED IN to what Google decides. Google taking the lead from Apple which took the lead from Microsoft which took the lead from IBM.

  • rekem

    WTF? I was hoping for a technical reason, but it’s “confusing?” That’s just lame. And on Nexus devices no less. I know they’re not just dev phones but they are as close as you can get to dev phones.

  • boonesimpson

    I like having an sd card as it gives me piece of mind,

    I have my phone backup to my sd card regularly, so if my phones goes wonky, or I drop it, my data is still on the sd card, which will likely survive damage that would kill the phone.

    I find it interesting that devices and carriers are eschewing native SD card sockets and instead promote streaming content…right after all the carriers starting doing throttling, datacaps, and overages.

    • digi_owl

      Likely because the carriers can then offer you streaming services packages that behave kinda like cable TV packages…

  • Johnathan Brown

    I had no problem dealing with it on any other Android that supported it. And confusing for who? I had no idea that managing storage was a school subject. If I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out then I would have bought an iphone. I’m sure there are other obvious reasons for pushing everything to the cloud. But he could’ve at least came up with something better. I kinda dig internal storage anyways.

  • bbman675

    Two silly answers to two dumb decisions. Locked down architecture is one of the reasons people pick Android over Apple and now, Google is using the Apple playbook to make our decisions for us.

    SD cards are not confusing for me…if they are for others, then Google should get better at making them less confusing, not eliminating them, that’s not a solution, it’s a cop-out.

    Oh, and muscle memory is an important consideration? Okay then, I have zero muscle memory to move my entire hand to the lower center of the screen to use the home/back buttons on a landscape 10.1 inch tablet screen…I just use my thumbs on my phone. The user experience MUST change. I think Google must be getting into the tablet insurance game because I promise you, I will drop my tablet shuffling it around to get to buttons I can’t reach.
    They can call it streamlining and user experience enhancement, but it just seems like lazy engineering to me.

  • Robin Afflerbach

    I’ll be honest. When I thought about their ‘cloud strategy’ to store everything online (music, videos, photos) i came a bit across his answer. That definitely could become a problem. But nevertheless why don’t they sell any 32gb devices? There is no reason for me but the price. But it worked for the Nexus 7, so why not for the Nexus 4 and 10?

  • Alphax

    wow what a BS reason for microSD, only idiots think having external storage like microSD is confusing… a lot of Windows users are already familiar with external storage, so what makes it confusing? lol, even the new Windows tablets from Microsoft have microSD… and Samsung always like to add microSD slot to their devices. so anyone knows the REAL reason why they don’t include it? just to use their cloud service or something? anyway, I thought google’s motto is “don’t be evil”? what happen now? -_-

  • V-Phuc

    Just hoping this Matias Duarte guy reads all the comments posted here. I’d like to echo the comments made by many previous posters about the lack of microSD card slot. Just give the consumers the choice where to store their data! There’s nothing confusing, one needs only a few minutes to learn where and how to do it. Not that confusing! I believe this is a blatant move to push for their cloud storage, and turn around to charge us for storage once a lot of people come on the bandwagon.

  • SDCARDSAREGOOD

    If they included an SD slot people wouldn’t HAVE To use it. People who find it confusing could never put an SD card in there and those that LOVE to have the option of more storage will be really happy. Include it and people at least have the option.

  • http://twitter.com/nrbovee n.r. bovee

    If it’s too confusing, you’re going to be too stupid to know how to put a SD card in. They put out devices with mediocre amounts of storage, and no way to expand it. If they are going to omit the SD option from the Nexus 4 phone, then give it at least 32 gigs of storage, not 16. He sounds more like Apple and less like Google.

  • Alex Bocanegra

    Fine, just give me my damn 64gb nexus 10!!

  • http://twitter.com/di3gopa Diego Tejera

    It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

  • http://twitter.com/spamidi spamidi

    Now Google is acting like Apple .. No MicroSD card is a deal breaker for me

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ranx60 Michael Franz Christiansen

    And he is Director of user Services
    What a highlegged edsel he is sitting on.
    Too me it’s the lamest escuse I’ve ever heard for moneygrabbing.
    Think the price SD- memory v. build in memory.
    I have no problems with my SD cards at all, and I dont see a buying segment that would.

    But recap the wisdom of Duarte:

    “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 every time? What happens to the experience when you swap out the card? It’s just too complicated.”

    I feel sorry for him, really. He would fit in better at DORO.

  • Ahone

    External storage provides options and that is one of the primary reasons that I started using Android devices. I like to make my own choices. I also live in a rural community with very poor wireless connections and very few WiFi hot spots. No external storage means I will keep my Acer Iconia Tab far longer. I have both USB and MicroSD external storage on it and I don’t find it confusing in the least. Google needs to find a new director of user services because this one isn’t listening to the users.

  • Hououin_Kyouma

    Well, fuck you google , I’m not a monkey, I bet even they could put the card in the slot, I hate how there isn’t a tablet comparable to the Nexus 10 with expandable storage, just because of that i’ll have to get the Nexus

  • concreteartistrync

    sounds like BS to me, I was pretty hyped about the nexus 10.1, but with no microSD, no thanks. They are playing the apple MO way too closely, so like I did when looking for a phone, as well as when I shopped for a media player, I will go Samsung.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1527896346 Alex Whyte

    Google I am not a fucking monkey, if I was, I would purchase the ipad mini. Get your head out of your evil ass and start listening to the people that want to buy android devices. ” annoyance” “too complicated” “confusing” you’re selling to android users NOT Apple idiots……..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erasmo-Cepeda/100002940525872 Erasmo Cepeda

    They didn’t put a SD slot in order to save a few dollars, to people depend more in cloud for storage and to follow Apple’s trail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Benjamin-Rodriguez/1289705569 Benjamin Rodriguez

    I wish they would have included a full size SD card reader, not as storage expansion but merely as a way for reading external media. With this resolution, it would have been perfect for reviewing and editing photos on, just pop in the SD card from your camera and you’re set. Sigh, hope Sony adds a high res screen to their Xperia tablet s in the next refresh while keeping the price low.

  • avogadro

    If someone can figure out how to connect a Nexus device to their PC using a USB, then I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t not suddenly become overwhelmed by this “fandangled device” called an external SD card.

    They weren’t too complicated for people to use in their cameras, and they even had them in their PCs.

    You know what’s more complicated? Pairing a Bluetooth device, or NFC and yet these technologies remain persistent….

    An SD card, you simply pop it in the slot, and if they don’t know it’s there, then they’re not going to lose sleep over it. No settings pop ups, no panic.

  • http://twitter.com/Alk3myApps Alk3my Apps

    It’s a real shame they’re making it seem like a usability issue in regards to leaving out an SD slot. Sort of goes against what Android was founded on, give the user the choice to do what they want, don’t tell them. Might as well head down the iPad path if that’s the case…

  • oldman_60

    If nexus devices have a microSD card then Google has to pay Microsoft a license for using their exFAT format. Microsoft licensed out exfat file system in 2009. I believe that’s the real reason.

  • Torquatus

    no microSD… I will be locking elsewhere.

  • DG

    Where did you work before moron??? Apple??? You ruined a perfectly good tablet. There is nothing confusing here. the reason I ditched Apple is no microSD slot. No MicroSD = No sale. Well done Sony for including a MicroSD slot in Experia S tablets. Shame the screen is only 1280×800.

  • nosdcardhuh

    perhaps they just didn’t want to give money to whoever owns the rights to whatever sd card reader would have fit, and didn’t want to be idiots by attempting to push their own proprietary memory card (cough sony cough)

    that sucks that it doesn’t have expandable storage though.

  • Lawrence Oei

    what a lame ass excuse! looks like I will be buying Samsung for now :P

  • No

    Confusing????! Sounds like something Apple would say… Total BS