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Mobile printing gets innovative [ITWeb]
[April 08, 2014]

Mobile printing gets innovative [ITWeb]

(ITWeb Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Advanced technology and innovation has boosted the progression of mobile printing solutions, empowering professionals to become more productive and agile while on the move.

According to Tyrone Malan, Drive Control Corporation (DCC) Lexmark product specialist, the paperless office has long been a goal of many businesses, but there is still a need for printed documents. He adds that to cater for the mobile workforce, printing has to become more mobile.

"In the past, having the ability to print wirelessly meant purchasing a device with a wireless card, and adding wireless functionality after purchase was a complex and often expensive task. Resellers and distributors also had to keep different models of printers in stock to cater for users who required wireless. Thanks to the innovation of the wireless pod, however, this has all changed," says Malan.

Mobile printing solutions now offer secure, affordable print-from-anywhere capabilities, along with the ability to print from a variety of mobile devices through innovative mobile applications, breaking down one of the final barriers to truly boundless mobile working, says DCC.

"Equipping the mobile workforce with print capabilities is easier than before, with a range of solutions to meet any business need," says Malan.

There are three methods of mobile technology – OS integrated print support, e-mail attachments and mobile applications – and each with its advantages and disadvantages. This depends on the business and the requirements of users since the level of print integration and ability for different operating systems and devices can vary greatly. Malan points out that there is no one size fits all approach.

Although mobile printing is a great innovation, it comes with its set of challenges, one being that mobile devices do not have print drivers, therefore, there is no consistent way to convert documents from their original format into a data stream or format supported by most printers. "Business class printers are typically capable of directly printing PDF files and image formats, but printing Microsoft Office documents directly can prove difficult," says Malan.

"Integrating printing capabilities directly into the mobile OS is the most intuitive method, as it creates the closest experience to the familiar 'File>Print' scenario most workers are used to from notebooks and desktops." A good example of native mobile printing is Apple Airprint built in to the OS, enabling users of any up-to-date Apple device to print directly and easily to any Airprint-enabled printer, he notes. "However, due to the fact that Airprint is only available on Apple devices, as well as technical issues such as difficulty in integrating Airprint over virtual networks, this option is of limited use in the large enterprise space," Malan explains, adding that this solution is ideal for small office and home office users.

Using e-mail attachments is the simple way for business users to submit documents for printing using smartphones, revealed DCC, with the additional benefit of being able to support most mobile OS without the need for additional software to be loaded. "The downside to this method is that users have no easy way of viewing the status of their print job, or of controlling printer settings, unless this solution forms part of a comprehensive print management solution," says Malan.

Mobile printing applications enable users to print documents and control the print job, view its status and get feedback during the printing process.

Malan adds that applications are freely available for both Android and Apple devices, allowing for the printing of PDF documents and image files directly to the printer without the need to use the organisation's e-mail servers.

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