A couple of months ago I got a Nexus 5 to play with. I was generally impressed with the device, but a couple of things gave me pause, one of them I’ll talk about now: you can no longer set up your phone to act as a USB mass storage device when connected to a computer.
That really bothered me at the time but then I discovered that the “Media device (MTP)” mode allows you access to all the files without the need for special software or dealing with DRM.
And today I remembered my worries. What happened is I installed and ran TitaniumBackup, which normally creates a directory in the SD card named “TitaniumBackup“, which I copy (as a backup) to my computer over USB. But not this time, this time when I connected the phone to the computer all I could find in the root was storage/emulated/legacy/TitaniumBackup – a file and not a directory.
After an hour of trying to figure it out – I did (I just had to reboot the phone). Google does indeed allow you unrestricted access to everything in the SD card over MTP, except there is a bug in their code that won’t let you see some files sometimes.
Reported in October 2012 – that’s a year and a half ago. A large the number of developers are complaining in that bug that Google didn’t as much as acknowledge it, and it’s been manifest for more than one major release.
My theory is the same I was thinking of when I first plugged my Nexus 5 into the computer and didn’t see a block storage device: Google will at some point soon no longer allow you access to the files on your phone or tablet. They’re already making it complicated by hiding your sdcard by default, and now this bug will train the remaining feature users to not rely on it. Everyone wants everything on the cloud, that’s what everyone’s going to get, and nothing else unless you’re a techie.
Probably as a coincidence (do you believe in those?) as I was struggling with this problem a message came up in my status bar offering to me to set up Google Drive. If that happened a bit later after I had time to digest what happened I would have said “yeah, I saw that one coming” :)