Guest Post: Piecing together the cross-platform puzzle

by Katia Shabanova, PR director with Paragon Software Group

Shabanova ask, “Why is storage management subsystem improvement not yet on Google’s roadmap? The open-source community has been addressing storage interoperability issues for more than ten years. Is there an answer?Gadgets running on a spectrum of platforms will be purchased this Xmas season, and they don’t always work together seamlessly.

Your friend’s favourite Windows PC program won’t run well on your Mac, whilts the app you love on your iOS doesn’t have an Android equivalent and, to top it off, your mobile devices won’t work flawlessly with your laptops.

With the increasing popularity of Android devices, which have captured 68 percent of the mobile market share to date and are expanding into other areas of the consumer electronics market, users need an easy and reliable way to interchange data between Android devices and Macs or PCs.

The biggest question for anyone remains, “How do I make my computer and mobile operating systems all play well together?”

“What happens to my data if I change the device or if I need to access data (a video, for example) on several devices running on different platforms?”

The open-source community has been addressing storage interoperability issues for more than ten years now, creating drivers for various unsupported operating systems.

For example, NTFS-3G is a well-known solution used to enable read/write access to NTFS for Linux/MacOS/FreeBSD, and is available out of the box in many Linux distributions.

Despite the fact that Android is based on Linux, it is not easy to run NTFS-3G on Android tablets, smartphones and media players.

There are two technical reasons for that. One is that the Android security system prevents applications from accessing storage media directly, which is a ‘must-have’ requirement for drivers.

Therefore, user-installable file system drivers require rooting the device prior to their installation.

The second reason is that the Android storage management system is not as extensible as those running on desktop operating systems (i.e. Windows and Mac OS X), and it does not allow using installable tools for transparent mounting of external storage.

Unfortunately, storage management subsystem improvement is not on Google’s roadmap yet.

Therefore, an additional effort is required from the Open Source community to enable automatic mounting of storage media and other aspects of user-friendly behavior that Android users expect.

Despite all the effort vendors put into delivering cross-platform applications, the effort might be lost without storage interoperability between devices.

One of the most-utilised media continues to be video. Many Android users have trouble playing video files on their new Android-based media player from a Mac-formatted portable HDD.

XMBC has announced a free, open source cross-platform media player application for Android tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes in July 2012.

It offers local network video and audio streaming as accessible as if it were being played from the desktop, making it a useful tool to anyone who streams media frequently and from various devices.

For Paragon Software Group, the last 17 years in cross-platform technology has led to the development of NTFS & HFS+ for Android.

This is a free technology that provides access to the most common file systems on Android devices that are normally not fully supported by native system drivers.

Interoperability issues due to an ever-growing number of mobile platforms, operating systems, and a vast degree of device and tablet platform fragmentation can be frustrating when it comes to data interchange between multiple devices.

Delivering a consistent user experience on multiple platforms is a technical challenge for software vendors because platforms differ in functionality, processing power and architectures, and even in development tools that can be used to produce quality software.

Fortunately, there are developers committed to piecing together the interoperability puzzle.

Author biog

Katia Shabanova is director of public relations at Paragon Software Group where she handles editorial exposure for the company’s mobility and disk utilities divisions. Ms Shabanova studied linguistics at Moscow StateLinguistic University and University of Texas at Austin; English and German philology at Santa Clara University, California; and earned Master of Arts degrees in English and German Philology at Georg-August University of Göttingen, Germany. You may email her as kshabanova AT paragon-software DOT com.

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