I doubt many of you follow updates about printers, it’s not the most glamorous and inspiring of markets… but what about Google announcements? If you are not familiar with their cloud philosophy let me quickly summarise, Google believe the future of computing and data storage is NOT on your computer, phone or little memory sticks. Instead, imagine a “cloud” database, a series of always-on information servers used to store everything an individual needs. Meaning you can access your files no matter where you are.

A grandiose idea….. but how is it relevant to printing?

Google Cloud Print

All printers may in future be classed as “Cloud-Aware”, tied in to the Google database and accessible from any machine on the planet. No more drivers/installations/compatibility issues. The ability to print to any machine, from any computer. Beautiful.

Imagine….

We have all been there. You’ve purchased a new printer, plug it in and try to print a lovely photo in eager anticipation….

Error: Printer Driver not installed

My what isn’t installed? Your printer driver, the thing that takes what you are printing, and puts it in a format your printer can understand.

Why doesn’t the printer do it itself, automatically? Why not indeed…. *commence smashing of hardware*

Google Clouds Solution

Now imagine that scenario but the printer driver is never installed on your computer. It is stored in Google cloud. All drivers will be. And will be linked to ALL cloud-aware printers. Now you simply send a print request, select the desired target printer, and boom – job done. No potential for driver errors, simple, hassle free printing.

Security Issues?

I think we need to give Google the benefit of the doubt and assume they will not be globalising access to any printer and enabling the freedom to print without permission… imagine if I could print this picture on every printer in the world 😀

In my mind it will be a double-barrelled process. Firstly, you will need a password and/or profile on the printer you are trying to send a request to. Secondly, the owner of the printer will need to confirm permission, so they get a list of all individuals trying to connect to the printer and need to filter out the inevitable spammers.

What are the benefits?

Ignoring the advantage of no printer driver hassle and the return to plug-and-print machines, how else can it help? Well how about these for starters, and this is just off my unimaginative and limited mind:

* Waiting for a fax at the end of work hours, simply forward print requests to your home printer
* Unsure of your document layout before printing? Grant file access to colleagues in the Cloud and they can all edit the base file and print their own copies.
* Office printer servers become the epitome of simplicity. No more multiple installations across a network and undue fuss.

“What a Waste Of Time”:

One interesting point was made by an affable chum of mine,

‘How is this different to just emailing the file to someone at that location to print?”

A surprisingly valid remark for the individual in question. But it completely misses the point of cloud printing, and to a larger extent Google Cloud itself. It is about bringing everything and everyone together, free access to data and computer functionality like never before. In regards to this specific comment, emailing would require the upload of the file to send, the downloading of the file to receive. Then a continuing back and forth until the final file is acceptable for both. With Google Cloud:

* The initial file is already saved in the cloud as it was created in Google docs – thus no upload and download time
* Changes made to the file? Anyone involved can make them and post updated versions for all to see

It is the simplifying of everything, the perfection of accessibility. What the internet is meant to be about!

Closing Points….

I can already see the complaints lining up now.

Why not just get a modern universal protocol for printing that all manufacturers can implement, the standardisation of formatting meaning no need for drivers? Why aim for small jumps instead of 1 giant leap?

What about those not connected to the internet? I would assume USB printing is still available. No internet means you are already isolated, you would be missing out on a perk not on a necessity.

Where do I go if I send a personal file to the wrong printer? Are my details safe? I am as eager as you to see the safeguards in Cloud.

But I think those nay-sayers should wait and see. When Google do something, they usually do it right, so I wait in anticipation for a potentially ground breaking move in the market, and suggest that the only question you should all be asking is:

When?

Disagree with me? Think I missed a valuable point? Leave a comment with your views or hopes for future printing capabilities