Till now, HP has held a huge advantage over it’s printer rivals when it comes to printing from the iPad — because even though rivals have made strides with their own apps (like Epson’s slick iPrint app) HP’s printers remain the only ones with AirPrint, which is tied directly to iOS and allows printing from within apps, without having to use an intermediary app (eg iPrint).
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In all the hubbub with HP killing the TouchPad and spinning off its PC division, one might forget that HP still has a strong connection with Apple: They’re the only printer manufacturer with printers that fully integrate prinitng from iOS, thanks to HP’s inclusion of AirPrint on many of its printers.
The HP Officejet 6500A Plus ($200), with its all-in-one features, automatic document feeder, wifi connectivity and removable duplexer for double-sided printing, is already an attractively spec’d printer. Toss in AirPrint capability and you’ve got a strong contender to fill any iDevice-toting home/small office manager’s priniting needs.
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.
With the release of AirPrint late last year, Apple finally gave iDevice users what they’d been clamoring for (and quite loudly, since the iPad’s debut): the easy ability to print from a wifi connected printer. Hurrah! Problem is, it only works with printers made by HP — owners of Epsons, Canons and the rest were left out in the cold.
However, for Epson owners willing to shell out $10, Thinxtream‘s PrintJinni app already provided a means to print to select Epson wifi-connected printers. In late December PrintJinni became a free download to put itself on even footing with AirPrint, pricewise — question is, how good of a solution is it?
Right now, if you have Mac OS X 10.6.5 and an iPad running iOS 4.2 GM, AirPrint’s a bit of a mess: some people are reporting that it is working, but many are not having any luck.
We suspected that it was just this sort of compatibility problems that caused Apple to scale AirPrint support back to AirPrint-compatible printers at the last minute, but developer Steven Troughton-Smith has some instructions on how to bring it to your Mac under OS X 10.6.5 and iOS 4.2 GM.
Yesterday, reports suggested that support for Apple’s AirPrint feature had been plucked from iOS 4.2 for shared printers connected to Macs and PCs, leaving only a subset of AirPrint-compatible HP printers mentioned in the official developer documentation.
Has Apple just had last minute compatibility problems they’re not willing to delay their iOS 4.2 update for, or has the AirPrint feature been canceled? Not according to Steve Jobs, but unfortunately, his comments on the matter aren’t particularly illuminating.
Starting in November when iOS 4.2 drops, we’ll finally be able to print directly from the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad through AirPrint. At the beginning, AirPrint will mostly only work with printers shared on your network, but eventually, AirPrint-certified printers will appear that can sense nearby iOS devices out-of-the-book.
In the meantime, though, we’re going to have to settle for some printers kludging iOS printing… namely by assigning each printer an e-mail address to which documents can be sent for printing through your iPhone or iPad’s built-in Mail.app.
HP’s just announced three such printers: the HP Envy e-All-In-One, which will cost $249 and do the whole smorgasbord of home printing duties including printing, copying and scanning; the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500A Plus, an all-in-one office inkjet with wireless connectivity; and the HP PhotoSmart eStation, which costs $499 and is capable of printing photos of up to 9600×2400 dpi, and comes with an optional (blargh) Android tablet.
They’re all attractive printers, and they are all technically “AirPrint-compatible” in that when AirPrint rolls down the software update pipeline, they’ll at least be shareable from your Mac. If you want a truly AirPrint compatible printer, though, best wait for a spell longer.