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Published May 19, 2018

The Gemini PDA isn’t just a mobile device, it’s a productivity-focused mobile device.  This means you’ll be working on it, creating content rather than just consuming it, and crucially this means you’ll want files and documents with you at all times.

Many productivity apps already hook into cloud services, such as Microsoft’s Office 365 apps for Android can open and save documents directly to OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, and Google Drive support is baked into the operating system.

Many people though, myself included, prefer to keep a copy of their files locally on the Gemini.  You can achieve this by plugging the Gemini into your PC via USB.  With this done, swipe downwards from the top of the Gemini screen and you will see a notification that says USB charging this device: Tap for more options.  Tapping this notification will reveal a menu in which you can select Transfer files.

With this done, you will now see the Gemini appear in File Explorer on your PC.  You can open it and copy files to and from the Gemini.

Note: If you want to transfer files to and form your Gemini from an Apple Mac computer you will need the Android File Transfer app, available from Google.

It’s also worth noting that if you want to sync files from a cloud service, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox the native apps for those cloud services tend to hide the files away so that they are only accessible through that app.

If you want your files synchronised to any other folder on the Gemini, or to the MicroSD card to make them easily accessible to every app, MetaCtrl provide an excellent suite of inexpensive synchronisation apps that are available in the Google Play Store.

12 Comments

  1. David. David.

    I’ve been trying this with my Gemini and my Mac, but it just isn’t showing up in Finder. Is the charging cable that comes with the Gemini data capable or is it charge only?

    • gidds gidds

      Same here.  Using the supplied cable to connect to my MacBook, but although the Gemini lets me select the USB mode (charging, transfer files, &c), on the Mac side there’s no sign of anything in the Finder (or in system.log).

      (In fact, I’m hoping the cable is the problem, as that would also explain why my attempts to flash it fail…)

  2. Sadly most versions of Android apart from the more recent versions for the Nexus series and OnePlus range just can’t handle file dat/time properties correctly,

    Files copied/moved to or from these Andoid devices are always stamped with the date and time of the copy/move rather than the real data from the created/modified/accessed data. This makes syncing files based on date and time pretty much of a joke on many Android devices. Sadly the Gemini PDA is also a culprit – hopefully this can be fixed when Android 8/Oreo is ported?

    I recently rejected several Andoid tablets and phones due to this problem despite being on Oreo 8.1 – As far as I am aware, only Nexus and OnePlus behave correctly. I would be pleased to be corrected!

    • Nione Birk Nione Birk

      I recommend using FastCopy to transfer files between any devices, using a windows computer as the go between.. It keeps the original “created” timestamps and is also very fast.

  3. Space Space

    I have a great solution for Mac users. You can start the ftp server on you Mac via terminal using ES File Explorer to transfer files as it has a built in FTP client. To start the ftp server check out this tutorial http://osxdaily.com/2011/09/29/start-an-ftp-or-sftp-server-in-mac-os-x-lion/

    My recording studio has terrible internet so when I need to send rather large audio files I use my cell service via my Gemini. I used to use my iPhone but the Gemini is just an absolute pleasure to work on for this. Hope this helps fellow Mac users.

  4. Not working for me with my Mac either. I have installed the AndroidFileTransfer.dmg and rebooted. The cables that Gemini supplied may be the issue, but I have not had the opportunity to test extensively with other cables. Error message from “Android File Transfer” application is “No Android device found. Please connect your Android device with a USB cable to get started.”

  5. David. David.

    I’ve played around a little bit more now. Still no luck with the Gemini showing up in Finder on the Mac, but some interesting results:

    On my work Windows laptop, the Gemini pops up in Explorer straight away, suggesting that this is not a cable issue.

    I have Parallels desktop on my Mac, where I can run a Windows 10 VM. With this running, when I plug the Gemini in to the Mac, I’m asked if I want to connect to Mac or Windows. If I select Windows, then the Gemini pops up in Explorer perfectly well. This suggests to me that there’s an issue between the Gemini and MacOS. Time for a support call to Planet, I think.

  6. gidds gidds

    Further info:

    It seems that the Gemini won’t mount directly on a Mac — probably because it doesn’t support the USB Mass Storage protocol. Instead, it supports the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) and PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) protocols.  (‘USB for file transfer’ appears to mean MTP.)

    So the options appear to be:

    1) Physically transfer files on an SD card.

    It’s obviously very fiddly opening the cover, closing apps, and removing and then reinserting the SD, so it’s not something you’ll want to do often.  But it doesn’t need any software installed on either side, and is probably the simplest and fastest way to transfer large amounts of data.  So it’s good for e.g. for initial set-up.

    Of course, this won’t transfer files directly to the Gemini’s internal storage.  But (space allowing) you can write them to the SD card, transfer it to your Gemini, and then use e.g. its File Manager to transfer them from SD to internal storage.

    One caveat: the SD card (as formatted by Android) can’t hold files >4GB, even though the internal storage can.  So this method won’t work for massive files.

    2) Install something that supports MTP over USB.

    The obvious choice is the official Android File Transfer, available here: https://www.android.com/filetransfer/

    This worked first time for me (using the supplied cable, or with other cables), but has some caveats:

    * It doesn’t mount as a drive. Instead, it shows the Gemini as a Finder-type window, so you can drag files to and from it, and delete files.  But you can’t access or open files directly, and it’s not accessible to scripts or any other programs. (So, for example, you can’t rsync.)

    * It doesn’t show the full filesystem.  (At least, not for my non-rooted Gemini.)  Instead, it shows two buttons letting you select either ‘Internal shared storage’ (the directory most apps can see, which appears to be /storage/emulated/0/, which is linked from /storage/self/primary, which is linked from /sdcard), and ‘GEMINI_SD’, which is the name I gave the SD card I plugged into my Gemini (and appears to be mounted as /storage/8048-14E3/ — both name and path will probably vary).

    * You need to connect with a USB cable.

    * Although it starts up automatically when connecting the Gemini, it shows an error because the Gemini defaults to ‘USB charging this device’.  I can’t find any way to change that to ‘USB for file transfer’, so every time I connect it, I have to OK the error, close down Android File Transfer, then switch the Gemini to ‘USB for file transfer’.

    * It doesn’t preserve file timestamps, and can’t handle files with e.g. question marks or exclamation marks in their names.

    * It’s not 100% stable.  I’ve had a few crashes/freezes already (after trying to transfer files with invalid names, or that are too big, or for some unknown reason).

    So, useful, but not ideal.

    3) Use the LAN.

    I haven’t got this working yet, but there seem to be several ways to use SSH or FTP to transfer files &c.  (On Android, Termux comes with sshd, and even has an extension to run commands at boot-up.)  SSH seems to be better bet, though it may be awkward to exchange keys &c initially.

    If this works, then I expect:

    * It won’t mount as a drive, so you don’t get nice drag-and-drop windows.  However, it is scriptable: you can use ‘scp’ and ‘rsync’ to transfer and synchronise files, and ‘ssh’ to run commands on the Gemini.

    * It probably won’t give access to the full filesystem, just the bits that e.g. Termux can see.  (Again, this may not apply if you’ve rooted your Gemini.)  And you’ll need to know your way around the filesystem.

    * You won’t need to connect any cables.  But it’ll be limited to the speed of your wifi.

    * It’ll preserve timestamps and other metadata.

    Perhaps all these approaches are useful for different things.

    (And if anyone has any recommendations for setting up ssh, please post them here!)

  7. gidds gidds

    PS: Having installed Termux, running up an ssh server is as simple as typing the command ‘sshd’!  You can then close the session; it keeps running until reboot.  (I think you can automatically start it after a reboot using the Termux-Boot extension.)

    One thing to note is that it defaults to port :8022, not :22.  (Presumably coz it’s not running as root.)  So to connect to it, you either need to run ‘ssh -p 8022 ’, or add ‘Port=8022’ in an appropriate section in your config file.

    The other thing is that I first copied my existing id_rsa.pub file to the Gemini (using Android File Transfer) into ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.

    Having done those, I can ssh and scp directly, with no cable!

    • vader vader

      Yep, been doing that since day one 🙂 You can also go the other way if you have a proper OS. If you don’t have rights to certain directories in termux, just use your favourite zip app, copy somewhere termux can see it and scp!

      Alternatively, install python in termux and type:

      python -m http.server

      Voila! you have a web server at port 8000. Navigate there from your PC and you can download files.

  8. Johannes Midgren Johannes Midgren

    Times are changing – nowadays the best experience when it comes to transfer files between a computer and an Android device is achieved by running Linux on the PC. With KDE Connect you can not just transfer files, but control your media player, use a common clipboard, share notifications, use the touch screen as a track pad and several other features. It uses SSH for communication, which is thus encrypted, and it works as long as the devices are on the same WiFi network.

  9. Rod H - Merritt, BC, Canada Rod H - Merritt, BC, Canada

    The Gemini doesn’t connect with my Win XP machine but no problem with my Win 10 laptop.

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