There will soon be a day when a driver is not required for printing. Wireless printing has become more of a household standard as new printers roll out with cloud technology, and Apple is looking to make the printing experience as painless and seamless as possible.
Two interesting patents applications were recently filed by Apple that detail printing protocols and APIs that don’t require drivers, with more of a focus also being placed on printing from the cloud.
For years, software drivers have been a huge thorn in the consumer’s side. Printer drivers in particular can prove to be very frustrating, as it can sometimes be difficult to find the right driver for compatibility with certain printers.
On the Mac, Apple has done a better job at making the printing experience more streamlined for the end user, with technology like AirPrint allowing customers to wirelessly print documents from an iOS device. Many manufacturers, like HP, also have mainstream printer drivers pre-installed on OS X for easy compatibility.
Google has also taken steps to eliminate the need for printer drivers with its web services, like cloud printing in the Chrome browser and Google Docs.
According to ConceivablyTech, if Apple’s two new patents see the light of day, there will be three ways to print in the future:
- From a traditional software driver.
- Through a cloud service (much like Google is doing currently).
- Through a driverless, universal access method that works on any printing device.
Apple has two ideas for the cloud service aspect of printing. One proposed method would send incompatible print data to the cloud to then be parsed correctly and sent back to a compatibile printer, while the other access method would rely on a printer device already associated with a cloud service.
The first patent in question details a driverless printing experience, and it combines the use of discovery protocols, like Bonjour, and network protocols, like IPP. If driverless printing is not supported on a device, either a traditional software driver or cloud infrastructure would have to be used.
While a driverless world is clearly what Apple envisions, cloud printing looks to be the backup tool for the coming transitional period. Theoretically, iCloud could be used to help usher in this driverless technology. We’ll just have to wait and see.