Review and How-To: Google’s New Cloud Print App for Mobile Printing from Android

Google has released its Google Cloud Print app for mobile and remote printing from Android devices to any Google Cloud Print-connected printer.

To download the free app, visit Google Play here. For more information on Google Cloud Print, visit Google here.

It takes a matter of seconds to install the app. Once installed (a reboot is not required), the user can initiate printing from the app and/or uses Android’s sharing feature to in order to print. Users can print from any compatible Android device to any Google Cloud Print-connected printer, and can also track the status of print jobs.

Where Does Google Cloud Print Fit In?

To answer this question, we need to first take a look at Remote and Mobile Printing:

Mobile printing as popularized with Apple AirPrint, is the ability to print from mobile devices to a printer. More specifically, it’s the ability to print wirelessly to printers installed on the local network (the network that the user is currently logged into). This solution relies on network infrastructure, but has minimal user controls or security. In other words, anybody who is logged into the network has unfettered access to the AirPrint printer.

Remote printing is the ability to print from any networked device to a printer installed on either  local or remote networks. This has been popularized by email attachment printing solutions such as HP’s ePrint and Epson’s Connect, as well as others that do not rely on the printing of email attachments, such as Google Cloud Print. Remote email printing provides a modicum of access control, as administrators can control which printers individual users can print to by giving them the printer’s authorized email addresses.

Google Cloud Print provides even more control, as a user can only can print to the Cloud Print printers associated with the Google account that they are signed into. Moreover, each Cloud Print user can have their own print setting defaults per printer (color, duplex, etc.). In contrast , email-attachment mobile-printing solutions provide universal default settings for all users of a particular printer.

Since Cloud Print has been somewhat usurped by Apple AirPrint and HP ePrint and has been around the block a few times, you may think, “what’s the big deal?”

Here’s why the Google Cloud Print App is a big deal:

With the popular Apple AirPrint mobile printing solution, you have to print from an iOS device using an app that supports printing, and not all apps do. Then, you can then send print jobs to any AirPrint-capable printer that currently resides on the network you are logged into. However, this potentially poses problems if you don’t have an iOS mobile device, or want to print to your AirPrint-capable printer that is installed on your home office network when you are logged into another network on the road. With Cloud Print, you can send a print job from virtually any device (including laptops and desktops) to virtually any registered Google Cloud printer from anywhere in the world.

We have a mix of Epson and HP printers on our network that support AirPrint mobile printing, remote printing via email (HP ePrint or Epson Connect) and Google Cloud Print. Unless we use an Apple iOS device, AirPrint is out of the question. With our Android devices, we must print via email attachments using the send-to- or share-via-email features of a particular app, and there are virtually no on-the-fly printer controls–the job prints per the defaults set in the vendor’s online printer administration console.

We can also print using the HP and Epson mobile printing apps for Android. While they give us more printer control, we still need two apps and can only use them when logged onto the same network that our printers are installed on. So, if we want to print to them from the road, we have to forgo printer control, use email printing, and hope for optimal results.

Here’s where the Google Cloud Print App comes in:

Cloud Print for Android - Share

The Google Cloud Print app now shows up in any Android app that has “send-to” or “share via” option. Note that curiously, the installed HP ePrint app does not.

Cloud Print for Android - Print Dialog

With the Google Cloud Print app for Android, we can easily print to our network-installed printers with a modicum of printer controls from anywhere in the world, without the drawbacks of email printing.

Cloud Print for Android - Printers

Now we can ditch both the HP and Epson mobile printing apps in lieu of the single Cloud Print app.

Two Flavors of Cloud Printers

If your printer is Cloud Print Ready, all you need to do is register your printer. This involves the two-step process of activating the Cloud Print service on the printer control panel and/or its Embedded Web Server and registering the Cloud Printer on the vendor’s Web site. Most vendors of Cloud Print Ready printers provide some type of automated sign-up process.

If you wish to use a “classic” printer (not Cloud enabled), it’s a little more involved.

To connect a classic printer, you must enable the Google Cloud Print connector on any (non-Chrome OS) computer that is already connected to the printer. This means that the Google Chrome Web browser needs to be installed.

Once Google Chrome is installed, follow the steps below to enable the Google Cloud Print connector in Google Chrome.

  1. Log in to your user account on the Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.
  2. Open Google Chrome.
  3. Click the Chrome menu  on the browser toolbar.
  4. Select Settings.
  5. Click the Show advanced settings link.
  6. Scroll down to the “Google Cloud Print” section. Click on Sign in to Google Cloud Print.
  7. In the window that appears, sign in with your Google Account to enable the Google Cloud Print connector.
  8. Select the printers you want to connect, and then click Add printer(s).
  9. You’ll see a confirmation that Google Cloud Print has been enabled. Click Manage your printers to learn more.

The printer is now associated with your Google Account and connected to Google Cloud Print. Whenever you’re signed in with the same Google Account you now can print to this printer using using either the Google Cloud Print Android app or any PC equipped with a Chrome Web browser. Remember that your PC has to be turned on in order for a classic printer to work properly.

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