HP has announced a range of ePrint printers that offer built-in support for Google's Cloud Print. The advantage that they do not need to be connected to a computer means you can now print from almost anywhere. There is also an API that you can build into your apps.
Cloud Print, a service that enables users to print from any device, operating system, or browser to any printer without the need for drivers or a PC connection, was launched by Google last year.
Now HP has announced that its ePrint-enabled printers are Google CloudPrint Ready - they connect directly to the Internet and register themselves with Cloud Print without the need for a host computer.
An HP ePrint-enabled printer (HP Photosmart, HP Officejet, HP Officejet Pro, HP LaserJet Pro) can be added your Google Account with the printer's unique email address. You can then send it a print job whether the printer is in front of you, in another room or across the country.
They are the first printers to be Cloud Print ready and open the door to the advantages of being able to print - from a smartphone or a netbook while on a train, for example, to your office or home computer.
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As the above diagram shows, even if you don't have a Cloud-Ready printer you can take advantage of Cloud Print. To add what Google terms a "classic" printer all you need is the latest copy of Chrome and you simply enable the Cloud Print connector. You have to sign in with your Google Account to make your printer available. You can then access it remotely from, for now, a limited range of apps. You have to sign in to your Google account and you can't share the printer with another Google account.
Although currently Cloud Print is fairly limited there are lots of improvements in the pipeline. In particular it is planned that you can make the printer available to other Google accounts and the range of applications that you can print from is to be increased. At the moment you can only print web pages and from the mobile versions of Gmail and Google Docs. There is already an Android app that allows you to print SMS, email and web pages and a Firefox app that lets you print web pages.
As you can tell Cloud Print opens up lots of opportunities for print-aware apps and the Google code labs website has a Developer Guide to assist developers to integrate printing solutions with Cloud Print. The system uses XMPP messaging for communication and control. At the moment the documentation seems to be mainly focused on creating Cloud Print aware printers with little emphasis on creating clients.
If Cloud Print is going to become widely used it needs more than just dedicated printers from HP - it needs application support and without good client-side documentation this isn't going to be forthcoming.
Google Cloud Print