Google believes that it can provide a proper printing experience with its Google Cloud Print. And it will start by eliminating the need for driver printers.
Read on to find out more.
When Google unveiled Chrome OS, some were skeptical about its capabilities, and asked about the state of printer support for the OS. Google has since responded to that question, and its answer is to move all printing services to the cloud.
According to a blog post by Group Product Manager Mike Jazayeri, the fact that printers today still require drivers (either built into the OS or installed manually) makes it impractical to “develop and maintain print subsystems for every combination of hardware and operating system– from desktops to netbooks to mobile devices”, thus the need to shift that responsibility away from the OS.
Enter Google Cloud Print, a service that “enables any application (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer”. To get a printer working, users only have to associate their printers with their Google Account via the service, and the device will be ready to start accepting print jobs. Google claims that such a service will drastically simplify printer sharing and allow for just about anybody to do so regardless of geographical location.
For that to work, Google is hoping that its project will spur hardware manufacturers into producing “cloud-aware printers”. Such printers will not require any PC connection or drivers: instead, the printer is simply registered with the cloud service and will be ready for print jobs. That sounds nice and all, except that such printers do not exist yet.
Alternatively, Google’s Legacy Printer support covers every single printer available in the market today (yes, that includes the latest WiFi and Ethernet printer you just bought from that computer shop yesterday). According to Google, legacy printers will be able to access the Google Cloud Print Service through a proxy, which is a “small piece of software” that is installed on the PC that the printer is currently connected to. The proxy will handle the registration of the printer with the Google Cloud Print service, with the downside being that the PC has to be on in order to accept print jobs. Google says that such a proxy is currently under development for Windows, while Linux and Mac versions should follow shortly.
While the Cloud Print service is a Google project, the developers have made it known that all the code and documentation will be open-source in a bid to ensure that a proper cloud-printing standard could be agreed upon, thus allowing for a true OS and driver-independent printing service for all web-enabled devices. Nice.