Just a few years ago, much of our computing activity was carried out on desktop and laptop computers. In recent years, the computer industry has undergone a radical transformation. We are now more likely to grab an iPad or Nexus 7 for casual tasks. Printing from such devices is less necessary than from larger computers, because they are portable; documents come with you. But, there are plenty of occasions where it is convenient to send documents to print directly from mobile devices. Printing tickets, photos, receipts, presentations and PDFs should not involve having to email them to our ourselves before printing them from a desktop or laptop. The obvious solution would be to plug your printer into your mobile device via its USB port, but that won’t work; the USB ports on most mobile devices aren’t smart enough to do that. Today we’re going to look at a few methods that make printing from mobile a breeze.
Google’s cloud printing service really does enable you to print while mobile. In fact, you can be on the other side of the world from your printer and still be able to print with minimal hassle. As the name suggests, Google Cloud Printing involves connecting your printer to the cloud (which just means the Internet), and installing an app on your mobile device or using Google’s suite of applications. All printers are able to take advantage of this service but with one caveat: only printers that directly support Google Cloud Print will be able to use it without having a connected PC turned on. Those that can print independent of a PC — so-called cloud-ready printers — include some Canon, HP, Epson and Kodak models. Most modern lines from these brands will be fine, including all HP printers with ePrint, but check to make sure before you buy.
If you’re going to be printing closer to home, WiFi is your best bet. Most modern printers support connection to a home wireless network. Once you have your printer connected to a WiFi network, you’ll need an app on your mobile device, much like you need drivers on your PC to print. HP provide the ePrint Home&Biz app for Android and iOS, and Kodak, Brother, Canon, and Epson have similar tools, as do some device manufacturers like Motorola and Samsung.
AirPrint is Apple’s proprietary technology for achieving printing over WiFi. All iOS devices more recent that version 4.2 are capable of printing over AirPrint, and it is supported by most modern WiFi printers.
In the past, Bluetooth was a reasonable option for printing from mobile, but that’s less true now. Most new printers do not support Bluetooth, because WiFi is so prevalent, and many phones (including all iPhones that aren’t jailbroken), don’t support Bluetooth printing, even when they are equipped with Bluetooth technology. Our advice is to stick to WiFi unless you have a pressing reason to prefer Bluetooth.