Google Cloud Print Comes to Android, iPhone

Google is opening beta testing for Google Cloud Print via Android smartphones and Apple's iPhone. However, users need a Windows PC to try this out.

Google Jan. 24 said it is bringing its Google Cloud Print beta to allow Android and iPhone smartphone users to print Google Docs documents and Gmail messages.

Google Cloud Print is the company's solution to allow any application to print to any printer from any computing device without installing any software.

Google Cloud Print is a solution intended to enable printing via Google's Chrome Operating System, the Web-based OS coming on notebooks from Samsung and Acer later this year.

Google created Cloud Print because it did not want to incorporate printer drivers for every computing device and operating system based on Chrome OS.

Now Google is testing the software for corporate mobility, according to Google Cloud Print engineer Tyler Odean.

To use this service, users will open a document in Google Docs or an e-mail in Gmail in the mobile browser from their phone and choose Print from the dropdown menu in the top right corner. Users may also print PDF or .Doc attachments by clicking the Print link that appears next to them.

English speakers in the United States on their way to work will be able to print a Google Docs document or Gmail e-mail message from smartphones based on Android 2.1 and later or Apple iPhone iOS 3 and later. If all goes well, the printout should be ready for the user when they arrive at the office.

However, and this is important (and ironic), users who want to try this must connect their printer to Google Cloud print via a Windows machine, which in itself requires work.

To connect a printer available on a PC to Google Cloud Print, users must enable the Google Cloud Print connector in the Google Chrome browser on Windows XP, 7 and Vista. Users may see full instructions here.

Odean said Linux and Mac support are coming soon.

Google opened Google Cloud Print to users in the Chrome notebook pilot program, via the Cr-48 machine it gave out to thousands of users to test.

Bloggers complained the solution was complicated to use, but Google has said it will continue to refine the product. If Google does get this right, it will change printing from being a tethered, painful practice to a more liberating experience that paves the way for greater hard copy portability in the Internet era.