Google Cloud Print: The Future of Printing?

These days everything from your mobile phone to your desktop PC will most likely have an Internet connection. This means you you can send an email, collaborate on a document or share a photo between almost any device using the myriad of web services that are available today. But printers are still stuck in a time when direct connections and local networks reigned supreme. Consequently printing a document from outside your desktop or that local network is convoluted process at best, and for most people it is just not possible.

Google is looking to change that with Google Cloud Print:

Our goal is to build a printing experience that enables any app (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer anywhere in the world.

Essentially Google is going to connect your printer to the Internet, giving it the same connectivity that is taken for granted with almost any other networked consumer device.   And it will do away with printer drivers to boot. This will allow you to download your email to your handheld device from the coffee shop across town and print it out on your printer at home as easily as you would share a photo or send an IM message.

The technology is in its early stages at the moment, with Google releasing the specs to encourage support from printer manufactures. Ideally in the not too distant future printers will have native support for Google Cloud Print, but in the mean time Google is working on a proxy that will allow legacy printers (which at this moment includes all printers) to work in the cloud.

Google has published the specs for the proxy interface and APIs to enable any printer to register itself with Google Cloud Print.

While Google Cloud Print is being designed with the Chrome OS in mind, the technology has the potential to make setting up a printer as easy as connecting it to the internet, and will finally make printers first class citizens on the Internet.

Be sure to read the next Printing article: The Role of APIs in 3D Printing and Manufacturing