Apple iPad Wireless Printing Catches Up with Ricoh, HP Services

Apple catches up to companies such as HP, Xerox, Epson and Ricoh by offering mobile printing for the iPad and iPod.

The announcement by Apple that the company is releasing the beta version of its AirPrint wireless printing for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, a key component of Apple's iOS 4.2 software update, illustrates the extent to which the ability to print wirelessly is being taken by hardware and software developers alike. Although Apple's products don't find their way into the offices of SMBs (small to medium-size businesses) nearly as often as brands such as HP, Dell and countless others, the capability to print wirelessly, and particularly from your mobile device, is becoming of greater importance for OEMs and users alike.

Apple announced Hewlett-Packard printers would be the first to support AirPrint, with compatible devices to include HP Photosmart, Officejet Pro and LaserJet Pro series ePrint-enabled printers. However, HP offers its own line of printers offering Bluetooth wireless technology, and many more HP printers can be upgraded to support Bluetooth with the purchase of the HP bt500 Bluetooth Adapter. HP notes on its mobile printing Website that while many phones no longer require any further steps, some phones require users to pair their devices prior to printing for the first time.

In May, Ricoh introduced an application for Research in Motion's BlackBerry smartphones, which allows users to employ mobile printing. The Ricoh HotSpot Printing application allows the forwarding of documents via e-mail or upload from a URL to a HotSpot printing device. There are no drivers to download. Users just need a Web-enabled laptop or smartphone to print to a Ricoh HotSpot printer. Users also have a print option inside their BlackBerry e-mail client allowing the ability to search for and print to publicly available Ricoh HotSpot-enabled printers powered by PrinterOn.

Epson America, a provider of superior performing desktop printing solutions, and Thinxtream Technologies recently announced a mobile printing application called PrintJinni for Epson that allows iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to print Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and JPEG files from an e-mail account to any WiFi-enabled Epson all-in-one. The two companies are pitching PrintJinni for Epson as an all-inclusive productivity tool that allows users to download, display, preview, and print e-mail attachments that maintain accurate formatting.

Finally, while mobile printing technology is still in the nascent stages, and it will likely take some time before the technology trickles down across the entire spectrum of printer and mobile handset makers, many are actively getting in the game at the enterprise level: Xerox's mobile print services offerings recently expanded through a collaboration with Proctor & Gamble, which will allow P&G employees to print documents from a variety of smartphones.

Using any smartphone device, employees can send documents to a secure server or cloud. Documents are held in the cloud until the employee walks up to any printer in the network and enters a code to release the prints.The mobile print solution is the first result of the Xerox and P&G Innovation Council, created to explore future work and technology trends and to design solutions that will benefit the P&G business.