Computer users who hate installing a new driver for each printer they use might want to keep an eye on the Google Cloud Print project. The folks at Mountain View have unveiled early designs for a service that would allow any web, desktop or mobile application on any device to print to any printer.
Google Cloud Print alone would submit and manage print job requests, by matching print jobs to appropriate printers with the user-specified options ("Four copies, black ink only"). This being part of Google's Chromium OS projects, the code and documentation are also public here.
Having the ability to use any printer in the cloud from your smartphone or laptop sounds good for convenience, but might still run into challenges when it comes to implementation. Google notes that the management user interface will allow users to view only printers that they have registered, or printers that have been shared with them.
That at least might prevent freeloaders from running hog wild, but at what cost to Google's promise of easy-breezy printer access anywhere? We imagine there's a bit of a balance to be found there.
But perhaps the biggest question is how "legacy" printers, aka every printer in existence today, fit into Google's vision. Google says that a small proxy piece of software will be available for anyone with Google Chrome installed on their computer, so that it can register legacy printers with Google Cloud Print. A Windows version is currently in the works, with Mac and Linux coming at some unspecified later date.
Google ultimately wants device makers to come out with "cloud-aware" printers which don't require print drivers or even a PC connection. Such standalone printers would simply be registered with cloud print services, and voila.
"We are confident that cloud-aware printers will soon be a reality," says the Google Cloud Print team. For their vision to come true, they better hope so.
Being able to print something out from far away seems like a good idea and of course Google was the first one to think of it, but it just doesn't seem ready yet. Google Cloud Print needing cloud aware printers will have immediate problems. Another problem for most US citizens today is that it will start out more expensive than most people will be willing to pay. A lot of people don't even have smartphones so that feature will only help fewer than half of America. "Anywhere" probably means within a couple hundred miles if lucky. There will probably be a lot of times where people can't even find their printer's signal from a couple miles away. I'd recommend not buying this for a couple of months after reading reviews. I personally wouldn't buy it because I already have a all-in-one printer so just being able to print from distances means nothing to me.
The best thing that I can comnpare this to is an XBOX 360. People should wait to purchase this. Patience is the key to having this product and avoiding most of the major problems.
Be advised that it is very posible any thing you print can and will be viewed by people you may not want to view it.
Back before silly things like firewalls where ubiquitous I could print from home to the lab at school directly by ip.
For all the hype about how we should be going "paper-less" there sure is a lot of trouble Google is putting itself through on this one.
Definitely seems like a solution in search of a problem.
I can also smell horrendous security issues -- as with just about all 'cloud' stuff.
Google makes a dandy search product.
"Cloud printing" as existed for several years primarily in the educational and hospitality industries. No print driver required. PrintMe technology developed by EFI, Inc.
Really cool and I fully support it. Woohoo Google! Go on ahead. I know it's kind of a bad thing that you can only print from registered printers, but the next thing we want is spam-print...
I know that HP has been driving this and other printing developments like it for about 5 years or so, and they've been going at it hammer and tongs, all out. It sells ink. Lots and lots of ink. I've had to sabotage my wife's all in one so that it can't print test pages without asking me first, even if she wants it to. If you know your machine works well; I'd recommend that to everyone. I should probably start buying bulk ink too, because these cartridge prices suck.