Google this week officially launched Google Cloud Print into beta, a cloud printing offering that lets users print popular document formats and Google Gmail e-mail messages from any device, regardless of operating systems, with no connection required.
The launch of Google Cloud Print puts Google in deeper competition with Apple, which launched its cloud printing service, AirPrint, late last year.
Google first hinted at Google Cloud Print in April when it launched the Google Cloud Print project. Last month, Google revealed plans to support Google Cloud Print as part of the Chrome notebook pilot program.
This week, Google said that Cloud Print is ready to roll.
"Let's say you need to print an important e-mail attachment on your way to work so that it's waiting for you when you walk in the door," Tyler Odean, of Google's Cloud Print Team, wrote in a blog post announcing the beta for the cloud printing service. "With Gmail for mobile and Google Cloud Print -- a service that allows printing from any app on any device, OS or browser without the need to install drivers -- you can."
Google Cloud Print essentially lets users print e-mail messages, e-mail attachments and certain types of documents like Microsoft Office, Google Docs or Adobe PDF from any device. Uses open the document in Google Docs or in a Gmail e-mail message on the device and choose "Print" from the drop down menu in the top right corner. Printers must be connected to Google Cloud Print and to be connected to the service printers must be networked or hooked up to a Windows PC, Google said.
Odean wrote that Linux and Mac support are on the way. For smartphones, Google Cloud Print will support devices running HTML5, meaning it currently supports Google Android 2.1 and higher and Apple iPhones running iOS 3 or higher.
Google Cloud Print will be rolled out in English this week.
Google Cloud Print comes on the heels of Apple AirPrint, a similar cloud printing service launched by Apple in November with the release of iOS 4.2. AirPrint lets users print from an Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to a select number of Wi-Fi-enabled HP Printers.
HP is also said to be working on a cloud printing service from its webOS mobile operating system.