Home Making Mobile Printing Easier: Google Announces Cloud Print

Making Mobile Printing Easier: Google Announces Cloud Print

Even though the myth of the paperless office has been with us for as long as we have had personal computers and printers, most of us still have to print a document here and there. Yesterday, Google announced Google Cloud Print, its new plan for enabling printing from its cloud-focused Chrome OS, mobile apps and browser-based web services. Google essentially plans to outsource most of the software infrastructure for printing to the cloud and establish a standard protocol that every Internet-connected printer will soon be able to understand.

Cloud-Enabled Printers

In Google’s ideal world, every new printer will soon support the Google Cloud Print protocol. Under Google’s model, these cloud-aware printers will be standalone devices with an Internet connection. Older printers, in Google’s vision, will be able to access these cloud-based printing services through a proxy on a desktop computer. This proxy will – at some point in the future – ship with the Google Chrome browser.

Once every printer is cloud-enabled, Google envisions that users will simply connect their printers to the Internet, register, and start printing from Chrome OS or any other service that supports this new and open protocol. You can find more details about how Google expects this system to work here.

Free and Open Standards

According to Google, the standards and protocols for enabling this service will be open and freely implementable. It’s important to note that this means that other vendors will be able to offer similar services that should work with all cloud-enabled printers. Thanks to this open protocol, the barrier of entry for supporting these services should also be very low.

One of the most interesting aspects of this service is that it will make it very easy for developers on mobile apps on devices like Android and the iPhone/iPad to enable printing from their apps. Right now, printing from mobile devices is almost impossible without resorting to specialized apps that connect to software on a local machine.

It’s worth noting that Hewlett-Packard announced a similar initiative in the past (CloudPrint), but this service never materializedUpdate: see statement from HP in the comments below.

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