Apple iOS developers, take note: The company is releasing the beta version of its AirPrint wireless printing for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. AirPrint is one of the key additions to the company's iOS 4.2 software update due in November.
Apple claimed in a Sept. 15 press release that AirPrint will support a "wide range of printers," including entry-level inkjets and office laser printers, and work on devices including the iPad, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and the iPod Touch from the second generation forward. Hewlett-Packard printers will apparently be the first to support AirPrint, with compatible devices to include HP Photosmart, Officejet pro and LaserJet Pro series ePrint-enabled printers.
"AirPrint is Apple's powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS-no setup, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, wrote in a Sept. 15 statement. Apple device users "can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to an HP ePrint printer or to a printer shared on a Mac or PC."
In addition to AirPrint, iOS 4.2 for the iPad will offer stronger security and device-management capabilities, as well as Apple's new multiplayer-centric Game Center application.
According to the blog Apple Insider, itself quoting unnamed people familiar with the matter, developers testing the iOS 4.2 beta must have the pre-release build of Mac OS X 10.6.5, the next version of Apple's "Snow Leopard" operating system. "The latest beta of Mac OS X 10.6.5 was delivered to developers this week with no known issues," reads a Sept. 15 posting. "People familiar with the latest version said it is known as build 1H542."
Apple released its iOS 4.1 update for mobile devices Sept. 8. In addition to fixing a handful of software bugs, the upgrade introduces Game Center, iTunes TV show rentals and Ping social-networking service to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Standard-issue iOS 4 features include multitasking, the iBooks e-reader, app folders, and the ability to change the home-screen wallpaper.
During a Sept. 1 presentation in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs claimed some 120 million devices currently run iOS, with 230,000 new iOS activations per day. The new iOS updates seem explicitly designed to head off competition from not only the regularly updated Google Android, but also the upcoming Windows Phone 7. In addition, a number of other manufacturers are planning tablet PCs that will likely include features such as multitasking and printing.