November 05, 2012, 10:14 AM — Printing anything from anywhere is no longer fantasy. In fact, it's often a necessity if using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop is an essential part of your daily workflow.
Cases in point: You receive a huge spreadsheet attachment on your smartphone, and need a way to view the document without squinting. Or you revise a PowerPoint deck just as your plane lands, and need to print it before you arrive at a meeting. Or maybe you're just staying with family out of town, and need to print a boarding pass directly from your phone.
Whatever the case, wouldn't you like to send a print job to the printer you spot down the hall, or to a printer in an office superstore down the block? Or how about sending a document from San Francisco to your own printer back in Chicago?
Mobile printing technology makes all of this possible. Printers with wireless or Web connectivity can communicate far beyond a specific user or workgroup. And printer vendors, all too happy to help you keep printing, are rolling out solutions that use e-mail or cloud-based print servers as the backbone for sending print jobs. Big companies like Apple, Google, and HP have particularly well-developed technologies that address issues such as reaching older printers, or finding places to print when you're on the road.
Get ready and set to print
Where and how you get started depends on how far you want to take your printing capabilities. You'll also have to consider three basic issues:
1. Find your printer, find your app: Your device and printer of choice need to find each other. Obviously, it's easy to set up mobile printing around your home or office, where you own or already have access to the printer. But what about when you must send a job to an unfamiliar printer? Luckily, checking a printer's online feature sheet will tell you whether it supports a solution to cover your mobile device or situation. You can also visit the iOS App Store or Google Play to search for a mobile app from the company that makes the printer you want to use (conversely, you won't have much luck searching for these apps in the Windows Phone Store or Windows Store). And if you want to find printers in random places as you travel, apps can help you detect accessible printers--at places like office stores and copy shops that offer printing on the fly (for a fee).