December 12, 2012, 11:27 AM — Many companies now allow users to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work. There are many areas to consider in the BYOD world, but for now, let's just look at the problem of how BYOD devices will print.
Companies report the most common Ds from the BYO crowd are Apple iPhones and iPads. Neither have printer ports. Few IT departments planned ahead for BYOD, and therefore, existing printers may not support Apple devices.
However, more modern and manageable multifunction printers will include Air Print support inside their devices, or provide apps to manage print output. Canon, for example, provides their Canon Mobile Printing App free for iPhone and iPad users through their dealers or through Apple's App Store and iTunes.
Office workers will expect to print all types of Microsoft Office files, including .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx. Other common file types BYOD folks request of printers include PDF files, image files, Web pages, and photos. The quality of iPhone photos have improved so much with the last two models that some companies use those images for their marketing and advertising.
Wireless printers will be available to mobile devices and their apps automatically, at least if they're modern wireless printers. Better printers will even allow BYOD users to store the print job in the printer mailbox for easy reprinting even if the mobile device is not available.
Mobile printing apps should include all the features the printer has to offer, including advanced finishing features. Number of copies, which pages to print, page size, paper tray, mode (black and white or color), and one or two-sided printing should all be supported.
While Apple devices are popular, many companies are eagerly awaiting new phones and tablets running Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. These devices will be much easier to manage and monitor using existing corporate tools. Supporting printing from Windows mobile devices is straightforward, and works much like printing from any Windows-based computer.
For those users who bring their own laptops, intelligent printers make it easier to download proper printer drivers. Security issues for the network are a concern in this case, but not our concern here. What is important is if your intelligent printer allows no pre-authorized users, make sure you have printer management software that can be controlled remotely to allow guest users, or add new personal devices, to the access control list.