Advantages and Challenges of Mobile Printing

Posted by Terry Willis on October 2, 2013

It’s 7:30 am and you’re at Starbucks waiting for the freshly brewed Coffee Traveler you ordered for your 8:00 am meeting. Due to the morning rush, you are told it is going to take at least 20 minutes. This doesn’t leave you any time to print the meeting’s agenda and handouts when you get to the office, because at this rate you are going to make it to the meeting in the nick of time.

Your flight is delayed due to weather, but your client cannot reschedule because he is due in court tomorrow. These circumstances don’t allow you enough time to prepare for your meeting or assemble the case file and materials once you return to the office.

In the middle of your proposal presentation your potential client asks for a printed copy because he can’t clearly see your screen. You didn’t anticipate this request so you don’t have any printouts on hand.

mobile printing

Mobile Printing Solutions

The solution to all of these scenarios and more is mobile printing. Mobile printing allows you to print from any mobile device to any networked and web-enabled printers. You can print documents, photos, emails, web pages and more from your phone, tablet or laptop.

Mobile printing can get you out of time sensitive situations, as in the examples above; but, it can also offer convenience for you and your employees, giving you access to printers inside and outside of the office. In our technology-driven business environments, most employees work from multiple devices and in multiple locations. Typically network connected desktops or laptops are the standard device they work on a majority of the time. However, when required to work away from their desks, they generally rely on laptops, smart phones or tablets that aren’t directly connected to your network.

Our mobile world, although extremely convenient, poses some challenges when it comes to implementing printing from these devices. There is no simple or standard solution that can be used in every situation. The wide variety of printers, combined with the wide variety of mobile devices, makes every situation unique.

Adjusting to Printer and Mobile Device Diversity

Each printer manufacturer has its own mobile app, requires a unique connection and is only compatible with certain printers or multifunction devices. Most printer manufacturers make their apps compatible with Android and Apple devices or provide an email-based mobile printing option (assigning your printer an email address so any device can print to it). Here are some of the common printer manufacturers and their mobile printing options:

Apple and Google have developed alternative mobile printing solutions, AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, respectively. These mobile printing technologies aim to make mobile printing simpler by reducing some of the printer limitations.

AirPrint does this by enabling mobile printing to any AirPrint enabled printer connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the mobile iOS device you wish to print from. Check out Apple’s list of AirPrint enabled printers and iOS requirements. If you don’t have an AirPrint enabled printer available there are some third party applications, such as FingerPrint and Printopia, which can be used to bridge the gap.

Google Cloud Print works with all printers, but receives best results with Cloud Ready printers. The trick with this alternative is that the printer must be connected to an active Google account, configured through Google Chrome and the mobile device must support Google Apps.

The Future is Bright

Mobile devices weren’t originally designed for printing capabilities, but many of their functions and capabilities mirror those of our laptops and desktops. Because of these similarities we desire the same performance standards for printing from these mobile devices. As with all technology, capabilities improve with time. Although not easy, we now are able to print from mobile devices. We expect the ease-of-use and implementation process to get better as this technology evolves.

A print provider can help you assess your mobile printing requirements and offer solutions and workflow recommendations to suit your needs. Talk with an advisor today about implementing mobile printing capabilities throughout your organization.

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Topics: Office Technology, Print