|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Mobile Printing Options Expanding
With mobile devices playing a more important role in daily business operations, the need to print may seem like a less common occurrence. But despite many predictions of paperless business practices, every now and then we need to print a document or a specific page.
Whether it's a printed boarding pass, driving directions, a signature page of an agreement or other documents, it's becoming increasingly common to print documents that are created, updated or accessed on mobile devices.
Fortunately, the growing need to print documents means the number of options for mobile device users is expanding.
Check Your Device
The most effective approach to mobile document printing depends on the type of device and printer you're using.
For instance, Android devices can use the functionality of Google's Cloud Print Service. The software scans a wireless network for any compatible printer and automatically installs the necessary plug-in.
You then check the application you're using for a "print" or "share" command, which should then display (and allow you to select) the appropriate printer.
Some newer printers are using a protocol named "Wi-Fi Direct" that allows you to make a direct connection with the mobile device, without having to connect to a local Wi-Fi network. The approach is helpful if you're visiting a customer site and need to print a document.
Similarly, installing a Wi-Fi-Direct-capable printer in your workplace allows visitors to print without the potential security risks of having to give them access to your company's network.
Android users can also access printers designed to work with the Mopria Alliance, a protocol that allows people to print a document by touching a mobile device directly to a public printer.
Some Android-compatible printers can use a Bluetooth connection to enable printing via handsets or tablets.
Users of Apple devices have similar options. The easiest choice is a printer with AirPrint capabilities that iOS devices can discover via wireless networks.
If you have (or are trying to use) a Wi-Fi enabled printer that doesn't support the AirPrint protocol, your printer's manufacturer may offer an iOS app that enables wireless printing. Check the app store (search via the manufacturer's name) to see if an app is available.
Similarly, some independent iOS apps promise to offer wireless printing capabilities, but in most cases, you're probably better off sticking with a manufacturer's app.
If you have a consistent need to print a document on the go, or if an agreement is important enough, a mobile printer can be a worthwhile investment for your company.
If, for instance, you want to lock down a contract with a signature, a portable ink-jet printer capable of printing on standard-sized paper may be worth adding to your travel bag.
As with other forms of mobile printing, it's important to verify compatibility with your preferred device and applications before making an investment.
While we may be using less paper in our mobile-first world, you still may need to print a document now and then. Checking out your options ahead of time, and, in some cases, updating your equipment, allows you to enjoy the benefits of mobility while still being able to print when you have to.
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