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Do iPads Have USB Drives?

by Anne Hirsh

The simple answer to the question of whether iPads have USB drives or ports is "no." However, as with most technological questions, there is more to the answer than that. A USB drive is an external device that uses a USB port to plug into a computer. A USB port is the actual port on your computer where you can plug in external equipment, such as a USB "thumb" drive or other hardware.

Available Ports

Original iPads and iPad 2 models of every variety have exactly two ports: the port for the 30-pin charger device and a headphone jack. This might seem discouraging, but Apple has developed a few adaptors that can turn the 30-pin port into something a little bit more.

USB Adaptor

The Apple camera connection kit is a sleek white "dongle." It turns the charging port into a female USB port you can use to plug in your camera. This is designed so users can download photos directly to their iPads, without having to plug the camera into a computer, and then transfer photos to the iPad through iTunes.

Potential USB Devices

The USB camera kit is intended only for cameras, but users have found that it also works with a few very low-powered USB devices, such as USB headphones or keyboards. You can also use it to download photos directly from your iPhone to the iPad, without syncing through a computer first. However, the iPad's software controls all of this, and Apple may change iPad software to disallow these unapproved connections with any future operating system update.

Devices Not Supported

True USB drives--whether they are small storage devices or external hard drives--will not work with Apple's software, despite the fact that you can plug these devices into the camera kit adaptor. Any alteration to your iPad's software to allow the device to use a USB drive or other unsupported device will void your warranty and break your contract with Apple, exposing you to possible lawsuits. Future versions of the iPad software may make USB drive interfaces legal. However, as of March 2011, you will just have to plug your extra USB drives into your computer and use iTunes or another file sharing service to store and transfer data.

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