If you haven’t been plagued by bothersome printer issues at some point in your life, you’ve probably never used a printer. Between drivers, third-party software, and network printing, a lot can go wrong. As Google continues to develop Chrome OS, an upcoming open-source operating system from Google, they are also addressing the issue of being able to print from said OS which doesn’t use any native desktop applications, but instead utilizes web-based applications. Luckily they are thinking broader than just their own future operating system, and are looking to create a printing solution that encompasses all devices that can access the web, regardless of operating system. Yes, that includes mobile phones too; an area which has been sorely lacking in the printing department for the last few years. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to print an image or document from the web using your iPhone?
Google today announced that they are working on a service called Google Cloud Print and that they are making the code and documentation public, which means that developers and companies outside of Google can contribute and work on turning the project into a reality for everyone:
Since in Google Chrome OS all applications are web apps, we wanted to design a printing experience that would enable web apps to give users the full printing capabilities that native apps have today. Using the one component all major devices and operating systems have in common– access to the cloud– today we’re introducing some preliminary designs for a project called Google Cloud Print, a service that enables any application (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer.
Google also goes on to explain why the current printing model just doesn’t cut it:
While the emergence of cloud and mobile computing has provided users with access to information and personal documents from virtually any device, today’s printers still require installing drivers which makes printing impossible from most of these new devices. Developing and maintaining print subsystems for every combination of hardware and operating system– from desktops to netbooks to mobile devices — simply isn’t feasible.
Why is this something to look forward to? Well, for one, Google wants to bring the same quality printing experience that desktop applications have, to web applications. Currently, if you’d like to print a document from, say, Google Docs, Google merely turns your document into a PDF and gives it to you as a download. From there, you need a PDF reader to launch the document, and you are actually printing through the PDF reader that is installed on your computer. Google Cloud Print would simplify this process by allowing web applications, such as Google Docs, to print directly to a cloud-awareâ€ printer and allow the user to skip the middle-man that currently is the PDF reader. Furthermore, Google Cloud Print is aiming to provide this same simple printing experience to any device that can access the web, including mobile phones. Presumably, you’d be able to pull up Google Docs on your phone’s web browser and print a document or other file with the same rich formatting options as you could from your computer. Sign me up!