Thursday, April 22, 2010

And They Said The iPad Didn’t Print!

There, I Fixed It posted this wonderful photo of an iPad on a copy machine as a joke for a printing solution.

Although this was clearly intended as a joke, it begs the question about why today's portable devices can't print. Lots and lots of portable devices have Wi-Fi network access. It's not that hard to scan for and send to a print server or a network-attached printer.

Now, you obviously don't want to load your phone up with large amounts of printer drivers. That would bloat the system and probably make it unstable. But there's no reason why you could ship with two or three generic drivers - plain text, PostScript and maybe PCL. With PS and PCL, you'd be able to reach most laser printers, and plain text would reach almost everything else.

And if you don't have a compatible printer at home, you can set up a computer to be a PostScript print server, translating the content for printing. Linux and Mac OS X have this capability built-in via the CUPS printing system. Windows users can use Ghostscript to create a virtual PostScript printer to do the job.

While I wouldn't want everyday users trying to manually set up a Ghostscript print server, there's no reason why a phone/PDA vendor couldn't make a convenient installer available as a free download.


JamesQMurphy said...

So let met get this straight. You are making a case for devices to print, which uses more paper, and kills more trees. ON EARTH DAY for crying out loud?!?!?!

Actually, you make a valid point. You could also ship a driver that would take the screen and make a PDF, which could be e-mailed anywhere, including your local Staples.

Shamino said...

Of course. Paper is extremely recyclable and a renewable resource. Paper companies replant everything they harvest. Of course, it's still good to use recycled paper, since that reduces the total amount of land needed, reducing the need to expand the tree farms into new forest space.

WRT e-mailing prints to Staples, that's not too far out of whack. Apple has had internet printing for photos and photo-related merchandise for years. The iPhoto app lets you buy prints, books, calendars, and many other items - the images are sent to Apple via the internet, where the items are printed and mailed back.

No reason a phone couldn't use this model, although you wouldn't want to wait for shipping.

JamesQMurphy said...

I just confirmed it: on the iPad, you *can* take a snapshot of the screen and mail it.

Shamino said...

Cool. So that's the equivalent of the photocopier. I hope there's something more in there, though, since Apple is selling a productivity suite (iWork) for it.

Shamino said...

Wel gee, wasn't this post prophetic...

Steve Jobs has now said in an e-mail that printing "will come" to the iPad.