Mobile Printing for a Mobile Workforce

Here are some excerpts from our recent interview.

[imageSource] Advances in Mobile Technologies have brought productivity to the mobile workforce by giving mobile users access to enterprise network and data. Yet one hurdle is the need to use tethered laptops to print. Help us understand how Mobile Printing helps us overcome that hurdle.

[SATWANT] Mobile Printing is one of biggest enablers for the rapidly growing mobile workforce to have access to all of their networks, devices and technologies from their handheld devices. Mobile printing is the ability to send data to a printer wirelessly from a smartphone, tablet, and a variety of other mobile devices such as vehicles and POS terminals on airplanes, etc. There are various ways to do this:
Some solutions allow direct connection between a mobile device and a printer using a Wi-Fi. These are easy to set up and use since they require no installation of drivers etc. An example is an AirPrint Technology for Apple mobile devices. Other solutions allow communication between a mobile device and a computer, with the computer being the computing entity connected to a printer using a Wi-Fi. So this is not a direct connection. These are more secure due to the server in the middle that can authenticate users. And there are other untethered solutions where the printer is attached to Mobile Point of Sale (POS) terminals using Bluetooth connection enabled by Personal Area Network (PAN).

Also, there are some Mobile Printing Solutions in the cloud which can be used, accessed AND managed from anywhere. In all these scenarios, Mobile Printing Solutions empower users to print from anywhere, on any device, anytime they want.

[imageSource] You mentioned Direct Printing for AirPrint Technology for Apple devices without the need of printer drivers. Tell us more about this.

[SATWANT] Yes, wireless printing can be done directly from Apple Mobile Devices to AirPrint compatible printers without any printer specific drivers.

This is how it works:

With Apple’s OS new feature of AirPrint, we wirelessly print directly from apple devices such as iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch to any AirPrint compatible Printers such as HP ePrint printers via Wi-Fi. The neat feature of AirPrint is that it does not require any printer-specific drivers. So that means we can print documents, photos, tickets, emails, reports, almost anything wirelessly using the existing Wi-Fi network, and without the need to setup mobile devices, nor any need for software or for intermediate computers. With AirPrint, Apple iOS devices can automatically locate and connect to (HP) AirPrint enabled printers on the Wi-Fi network that the mobile device is on.
[imageSource] These days, companies support “Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) which increases complexity of Mobile Printing. What solution do you suggest for those that support BYOD?
[SATWANT] Companies that support BYOD face complex challenges on enabling mobile printing for all BYOD different kind of tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices that people are bringing to the workplace. Some companies have to put complex solutions in place, such as putting its wired and wireless networks on the same subnet; install a third-party Windows application; installing PC connected to network printers that is dedicated to printing, etc.

Another issue with BYOD is that it can compromise their security with different mobile implementations. Security issues have to be addressed. An elegant solution to consider is a Secure Private Cloud Printing Solution for the Enterprise without the need for drivers. This is how they work:
There are mobile printing solutions for Enterprises (including HP ePrint Enterprise) that are private cloud printing solutions for use in large networks. They are ideal for SMBs, large corporations, and academic environments which have the IT departments to manage private cloud services. This is a good mobile printing solution for their mobile workers. HP’s ePrint Enterprise Solution is a web-based console solution that allows for one-button printing and provides cloud printing and the ability to keep printing services with a secure network. It is easy to use, easy to deploy and supports today’s leading smartphone and tablet PC’s. Such solutions enable users to submit print jobs to private company printers, as long as the user is registered with Enterprise Print server, to view the company’s private printers.

These mobile printing solutions can allow users to use their BlackBerry, Android or iOS smartphone to print presentations, reports, etc on the company’s printer network. Using new solutions dedicated to the Enterprise, employees can print to an existing fleet of networked printers from their smartphones and tablets. Since the Mobile App doesn’t require drivers, it supports printers regardless of manufacturer, and supports a wide variety of files and formats, working seamlessly within an/your existing printing environment.

[imageSource] You talked about Bluetooth Solutions for Mobile Printing. Please tell us more about these technologies.

[SATWANT] Bluetooth is a wireless technology that enables untethered or tetherless communication between two Bluetooth enabled devices that are configured to talk to each other. For example: earpieces and phone. Bluetooth uses radio signals in the 2.4 GHz range allows for the transmission of data up to 300 feet. Bluetooth is not just for people wearing Bluetooth earpieces talking on their cell phones. It is also useful in electronics like printers. Bluetooth enabled printers are coming out that enable wireless printing. If they are not already Bluetooth enabled, many printers can also use adapters to get wireless. The adapter connects into the printer’s USB port. The computer also needs Bluetooth functionality. Then it can discover a Bluetooth printer as a Bluetooth device. Both the Bluetooth printer and the computer form a personal-area network (PAN). Multiple computers on PAN can print to a single printer. Bluetooth is one technology used for mobile printing that takes cables out of the workspace; is used to securely carry out communications between mobile computers and printers, scales, bar code scanners and other peripherals. Many Bluetooth printers can communicate with mobile computers, POS terminals, scales, PCs and other devices.

[imageSource] Tell us about some more about HP Mobile print technologies?

[SATWANT] Sure, HP has HP ePrint Enterprise, which includes an “email-to-print” feature that works on any Interned-enabled device, including a variety of mobile devices including BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.

With it, you can:

Print from a smartphone to a company’s networked printers. Print from a smartphone to any of HP’s public ePrint locations in coffee shops, hotels, airports and more. Print from any Internet-enabled device through a corporate email account and network printers assigned that corporate email address. It lets BlackBerry or other smartphones connect with an HP ePrint Enterprise Server and then selected enterprise printer. It also has integrated GPS search to find nearby printers. One can look for a printer service with in network and behind the firewall installation, security management systems, and sharing capabilities.
And HP ePrint Public Print Service provides an easy way for mobile customers to discover print services providers, choose their location for printing, and helps advertise and market more products when they step not your business.
Other HP solutions for Mobile Printing with Apps are:

HP ePrint for iOS and Blackberry: App for mobile printing; HP ePrint Home & Biz for Android and Symbian: App for Mobile Printing; HP Printer Control for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch-App; and HP iPrint Photo for Windows Mobile Phone Apps for photos.

[imageSource] Do you see more challenges to Mobile Printing overall?

[SATWANT] There are challenges yet if addressed, will accelerate the adoption of Mobile Printing to bring true mobility to the increasing Mobile Workforce today. The ease of using Bluetooth does bring concerns of security of Bluetooth networks by eavesdropping and intrusion. But consumers demandingly want to use their smart phones to print web pages and other documents. However, there is no native operating system support for printing these web pages. Not many soluti ons exist yet for Mobile Imaging and Printing Solutions with mobile devices such as digital cameras, camera phones, etc. Lack of standardization of the software and hardware used to communicate between mobile devices with cameras and printing devices making collaboration difficult. We need to get to multiple solutions of direct printing without the usage of a computer. Hopefully, this information enlightens the imageSource readers a bit more!

Source: ImageSource Magazine