Daily App: Lexmark Mobile Printing App Not Worthy Of Its Printers

Solution providers that plan to propose mobile printing with Lexmark printers for their customers should be prepared to budget for extra user training and support. That's because Lexmark Mobile Printing for Android or for iOS, while capable, eschew some of the conventions of other mobile printing apps, and often had the CRN Test Center scratching its head as to how to get things done. Both apps worked well once we got used to the Lexmark way.

For one thing, the apps forgo automatic printer discovery in favor of manually entering printer IP addresses or scanning a printer's QR code The Android version has since added it, but according to descriptions on both of their respective app store pages, the apps were built this way because "discovering a printer on an enterprise network can be challenging" and QR code scanning is provided "to simplify the process." From where we sit, selecting from a list of logically named printers is easier than walking over to the printer and finding and scanning its QR code, or figuring out and keying in the IP address. We won't even get into the issues that are likely to arise if DHCP is in use.

Between the Android and iOS versions, the better of the two apps is for Android, but not because it's easier to use. At first glance, the app barely seems to do much beyond adding printers and outputting through the embedded browser. A browser icon launches the browser with a blank URL field with no history and no bookmarks. We keyed in a few Web pages, all of which were printable (indicated when the browser's printer icon turns from gray to black). A few Android apps can print by sharing content with Lexmark Mobile Printing, but nowhere is that documented in the app itself. The only mention we found was in the app store description. There's no direct access to the local file system.

The iOS version presents an interface more like other mobile printing apps, with buttons for printing local files and images and for printing from the Web. Since iOS itself prohibits direct access to the file system, tapping the "Local" button prompts for selection from Photo Albums, the Clipboard or the Camera, which captures images directly and presents a preview for printing. it supports PDF, JPG, BMP, PNG and TIFF file formats. Other buttons display current and past print jobs, bring up help and add more printers. The Web button launches an embedded browser with a blank URL field. Before a page is loaded, the app displays a list of recent pages. When a page is printable, a printer icon changes from gray to black to indicate that it's ready to print. Tapping the printer icon is supposed to convert the page to PDF and present a preview before printing, but continued to crash instead.

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We tested Lexmark's mobile printing apps with a Lexmark CX510 color laser MFP, a fine printer worthy of a fine mobile printing app. Unfortunately, Lexmark's apps don't do justice to its printers. A review of the CX510 will be part of Printer Week 2015, running Feb. 2 through 6.