8 Great Apps For Mobile Printing4:00 PM EST Mon. May. 13, 2013
As we launch Printer Week 2013, our opening salvo is focused on apps for devices that are generally closer at hand than a shared office printer, and not for desktops or laptops; we're referring to apps for printing from mobile devices -- those smartphones and tablets that you might even be using to read this.
As mobile devices continue to grab ever bigger slices of our attention and compute time, it becomes ever more convenient to output directly from them. And solutions to get that done are numerous.
As we'll cover throughout this week, printer makers of all stripes are down with the struggle. Some embrace third-party solutions from the likes of Apple and Google, others have developed their own apps and backends, and still others have chosen the card-reader route. What follows is a look at device-printing apps from vendors big and small, including solutions from printer makers we'll be covering all this Printer Week.
It makes sense that a world-leading printer maker would also offer a terrific solution for accessing its printers from mobile devices. Such is the case with ePrint App and ePrint Enterprise service from Hewlett-Packard, which are among the best solutions we've seen. When used with ePrint-enabled HP printers, the ePrint App for Android, BlackBerry and iOS lets smartphones and tablets output directly or by sending email through the service to an address created for the desired printer.
While performing a review of HP's LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn for Printer Week 2013, a page popped out with instructions for configuring HP's ePrint Center back-end services for remote printing to this unit. The concise instructions included creating a dedicated email address and inputting a time-limited security code. The ePrint Enterprise service works with ePrint-compatible printers only; the ePrint App also works with some HP models with Wi-Fi Direct. Both are free.
This clever app for Android, BlackBerry and iOS uses GPS to determine where there's a "printer on" in the area where it can output photos, web pages, MS Office, and iWork files and PDFs stored locally or in a Google Drive, Dropbox and Box account. Developed by mobile printing solutions company PrinterOn, this free app searches upward of 10,000 corporate and public locations, according to the company, and finds the nearest PrinterOn-enabled output location. A subscription is required for home use.
To help avoid the annoyance of buying an app that doesn't work, printing solutions developer Dynamix Software offers a free version of its PrinterShare Premium for Android ($12.99) and iOS ($4.99), which it claims can "print virtually anything from your phone" by simply using copy and paste.
PrinterShare uses Wi-Fi to detect and connect to many printer brands. When a Wi-Fi printer isn't available, Dynamix offers a free download for Mac OS X and Windows that allows mobile devices to output to printers connected to desktop or laptop computers. The company is working on Bluetooth support.
For buyers of its printers, Brother Industries provides iPrint&Scan for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7. The app permits devices on the same subnet as the printer to output local Office and PDF documents as well as files saved on SkyDrive, and to control the scanner. The app requires no computer to print and scan on dozens of supported Brother laser and inkjet MFPs. Interestingly, scans are saved directly onto the mobile device, something we haven't seen before, and with the size of scanned images, could be problematic.
Here's a solution that can print-enable the mobile devices of an entire company in one fell swoop. PrintMe Mobile from EFI is a server-based solution that not only removes the subnet restrictions that bind products like Apple's AirPrint, but makes non-Wi-Fi printers accessible to wireless devices. It also enables email-to-print with attachments, and release-to-print, which holds print jobs until a security code is entered into the mobile device, presumably while standing at the printer. Once installed on the network, PrintMe Mobile broadcasts a list of available printers for display on mobile devices running Android and iOS, which requires no additional software. For Android tablets and smartphones, there's PrintMe Mobile for Android, which enables printing with Android's Share, Open With, and Complete Action Using app functions. PrintMe Mobile preserves fonts and layouts for printing and supports file formats of MS Office as well as GIF, JPG, TIFF, PDF, PICT, TXT, PostScript and others. EFI in October released the PrintMe Mobile L100, a Linux-based appliance for plug-and-play deployment of its solution.
If AirPrint made printing from iPads and iPhones easy, DocPrinter for iOS makes it downright simplistic. Created by business app developer EuroSmartz, DocPrinter makes it easy to browse, email and print files, photos and web pages stored on the device or in Apple iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive. For $4.99, DocPrint prints to all printers via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB and Bluetooth. It also can print remotely via 3G/4G connection without additional software. After downloading, a simple menu reveals choices of what to print. It even stores files on the device to print when it's needed.
Add Wi-Fi printing capabilities to any printer with PrintBot from Java security developer zenofx.com. This simple, free app lets Android smartphones and tablets use the send/share command for printing image files, PDFs, browser pages, email and other documents over JetDirect, IPP or LPR protocols directly to any of about 2,800 supported printers, including models from HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark, Brother, Samsung, as well as AirPrint-enabled printers. The free version is limited to three images or PDFs per month with a cap on file size of 1 MB. For $4.49, the unlimited PrintBot Pro also prints web-page images and can store printer profiles.
Google and Microsoft might be archrivals in the corporate arena, but that doesn't mean they can't play nice in the trenches. For Windows Phone 7 device holders needing to print their SkyDrive documents on a printer in the Google Cloud, independent developer Corey Bonnell has just the thing. KumoPrint for Windows Phone 7 will connect directly to a SkyDrive account and browse and filter files for direct printing to any output device using Google Cloud Print. The tool supports multiple image formats including SVG and TIFF, as well as Office and OpenOffice document and spreadsheet formats. An integrated web browser makes quick work of outputting web pages and a log captures the 50 most recent print jobs.