A world without printer drivers, where you could print to any printer. That's the vision of Google Cloud Print, which the technology giant said has more than 6 million printers connected to the service.
This cloud -based printability is now available from the Google Chrome Web browser, whose version 15 has taken first place in the global browser race, according to stats recently released by StatCounter.com. The new Chrome 16 browser allows a user to print from any Mac, PC , or Linux machine on which the browser has been installed, a capability which previously was only available from Google's Chromebook laptops.
Classic and Cloud-Enabled Printers
Introduced in spring of last year, Google Cloud Print uses the company's cloud infrastructure to enable printing to any compatible and enabled printer, wirelessly and without the need for maintaining drivers. Printing via Cloud Print has been one of Chromebook's selling points.
Chrome OS-based Chromebooks are designed to do virtually everything in the cloud. Models from Samsung and Acer sell for about $300, but sales have been slow.
Classic printers, which do not have Google Cloud Print capacity built-in, can be connected to a laptop or PC, which then is registered with Google Cloud Print over the Web, through the Chrome browser. However, some users have reported that configuring a laptop or desktop to use the service is problematic.
Printers that have built-in Google Cloud Print capability can connect directly to the Web and register themselves, without the need for a separate computer. In Google's corporate vision, users could print documents wirelessly on the train to work, and have the printouts ready when they arrive.
Printing from the Train
Al Hilwa, program director for application development at IDC, said that, "If you're on the go, Google Cloud Print could have lots of advantages." As long as security issues are adequately addressed, he said, Cloud Print looks to be "an idea whose time should have come years ago."
In April of this year, Hewlett-Packard announced its support of Google Cloud Print. The company said that any user could add the e-mail address of an HP ePrint-enabled Photosmart, Officejet, or Laserjet Pro to their Google account, which would allow it to print from the Chrome browser or such Google apps as Gmail for Mobile or Google Docs for Mobile. There are also a variety of apps and extensions that enable Cloud Print on any mobile device or on Macs and PCs.
Other Google Cloud Print-ready printers have also been released by Epson and Kodak, resulting in what Google described as "dozens of cloud-ready" printer models.
New features have also been added by Google, including the ability to share and control access to printers, the ability to save online receipts and confirmation pages to an archive in the cloud, and a new tablet -friendly design for the print management page.