EFI has introduced enhancements to its PrintMe mobile printing service that works from any Internet-enabled device.
PrintMe allows users to upload their documents and securely print them on any PrintMe-enabled printer, regardless of location. PrintMe supports users on any device with Web access, including laptops, desktops and mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, EFI said in an Oct. 21 announcement.
"Now, we're bringing this same functionality to business professionals who want to print from any application, on any mobile device, to any printer wherever they are. There's no need to buy special printers or wait years for these features to become available, since PrintMe works with any PrintMe-enabled printer today," said Toby Weiss, EFI's general manager and senior vice president.
The new version of the PrintMe platform features advanced document conversion capabilities, smartphone applications, new printer drivers and a software development kit for developers interested in adding printing capabilities to their applications, EFI said.
EFI expects to launch the iPhone app in early November, with the BlackBerry app to follow in December.
"Cloud printing services are the next digital printing breakthrough, changing the business model from costly and limited ownership of individual printers to flexible anytime, anywhere access to printed communications," said Pete Basiliere, research director of Gartner Imaging and Print Services.
Mobile printing is even more critical with more users relying on mobile devices, allowing them to print boarding passes, Web pages, photos and documents while on the go, EFI said. As long as there is a PrintMe-enabled "cloud aware" printer, users can securely print from businesses, coffee shops, airports or any public location, the company said.
EFI's cloud-based printing solution means users don't need to hook up their device to a printer, download drivers or install any new components. Users simply forward their file or document to the PrintMe e-mail address "email@example.com" or go to the PrintMe Website and upload the file. The saved file is assigned a document ID number, which is used by the PrintMe-enabled printer to retrieve the document when it's time to print.
A PrintMe-enabled printer is any printer hooked up to EFI's PrintMe station either via USB, infrared or the local network. The device includes an integrated keypad and LCD display. With the PrintMe station on the network and the printer connected to the station, users will be able to access the printer from any device even if it's not on the same network.
After sending the document to the printer, users enter the document ID on the station's keypad. This ensures sensitive documents are printed only when the user is ready, instead of sitting in the document tray.
PrintMe can also be used to secure regular printing within the office. Instead of a standard printer, the desktop has the EFI PrintMe driver installed, and users print the document using that driver. The user enters the document ID at the PrintMe station and gets the prints.
PrintMe supports most USB and networked printers from leading manufacturers, including HP, Canon and Lexmark. It supports most file formats, including Microsoft Office documents; PostScript files; HTML; image files including bitmaps, .GIF, .PNG, .PCT, .TIFF and .JPG; PDF; and text files.
"Cloud printing services offer several quantifiable and qualitative benefits including reduced operating and capital costs, lower environmental impact and increased productivity, especially for mobile and remote employees," said Basiliere.
EFI has had a long-standing partnership with Xerox, which recently included PrintMe in its mobile printing portfolio.
EFI launched the PrintMe service nine years ago and found traction in the hospitality market, and it continues to be popular among hotel and resort partners, the company said.