The options for printing from your smartphone run the gamut, from integrated printing features right on your device, to third-party printer apps and cloud services provided by printer manufacturers.
Nobody wants to boot up their computer just to quickly print a document or photo from their smartphone. That's why Apple and Google have integrated a printing feature into their mobile operating systems – Airprint in the case of iOS and Cloud Print for Android.
The advantage: Print jobs can be sent to the printer from any app via WiFi. The disadvantage: The printer must support the respective standard. "If it doesn't, nothing will come out of the paper chute," says Rainer Schuldt of the German-language magazine Computer Bild.
If the printer and the mobile device are on the same network, Airprint will automatically display the printer. Then all you have to do is select it and start printing. The data doesn't leave the local network, according to Rudolf Opitz from c't, another magazine.
Google's Cloud Print requires you to install an app on your Android smartphone. That makes it possible to use printers via WiFi. However, Google has announced that it plans to switch off this service at the end of 2020.
There are still alternatives to print from a smartphone, including apps from printer manufacturers. The disadvantage: "Usually the document to be printed must first be sent to the printer app, then it can be sent to the printer," Schuldt explains.
While that works quite well for documents stored on the phone or in cloud storage, printing from the browser usually doesn't work.
Compared to Airprint on iPhones, printer manufacturer apps offer the advantage of additional settings, such as print quality.
There are also third-party apps that work with as many different printer manufacturers as possible. "Unlike the apps from printer manufacturers, these apps are often not free of charge," Opitz says.
Plug-in apps are another way of printing via smartphone or tablet. These are developed by both printer manufacturers and third-party providers. They're generally free, don't have their own user interface and can be installed via the app stores.
When you connect to the printer, you transmit the paper size, colour, and the desired print quality. "They generally use cloud services for processing, but most plug-ins point this out beforehand," says Opitz.
If the document is something you want to keep secure, he advises against using apps that prepare the print data on Internet servers.
Another Android solution is the Mopria (Mobile Printing Alliance) plug-in app. The app is the result of an industry organisation founded in 2013 by the companies Canon, HP, Samsung and Xerox.
Since then, all the well-known printer manufacturers have joined, along with Adobe, Microsoft and chip manufacturer Qualcomm.
"It has set itself the goal of standardising printing from mobile devices," Opitz says.
But what about print quality? "It can happen that the manufacturer's plug-in prints better than the Mopria or vice versa," Opitz says. He recommends trying it out to see.
In addition, many printer manufacturers offer their own cloud services. The printer gets an email address, to which users can send anything they want to print. If the printer is switched on and online, users can even get it to print while they're out and about. – dpa
Did you find this article insightful?
81% readers found this article insightful