Review: Cloud Printing from your device

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One of the subjects that has been a great problem for a long time, actually since the days of Windows Mobile, is the need one has from time to time to print directly from the device.

To tell you the truth, at some point in the past I got tired from trying to find a solution for this issue and just let it go. However, during my last trip to Latin America, I had the need to print a new version of a contract urgently, and then noticed that my hotel (The Hilton Reforma Mexico City) had a kind of a cloud service on place for printing, and the use of the service was simple and rewarding. That's right, I used my computer for that, but it gave me again the appetite to try to find a solution that will make me able to do the same from the phone or from the tablet.

So I went for a visit to the "print" search at Google Play. I've got a list which was at the same time inspiring and disappointing. Inspiring because there are many people working on this subject. Disappointing because most of the things I've found were either useless, not comfortable, or expensive.

You can find there three kinds of apps:

- Software from the different printer makers, which seem to work fine, but at most support their own printers in Wifi or Bluetooth, and require us to install ALL the packages from the different makers if we want to support (almost) all printers.

- Free software that doesn't really work or misses much of the functionality we need.

- Software that sells for $10 or more.

However, in the middle of this mess I was able to find a real gem: Cloud Print by the developer Paulo Fernandes.

At first sight, I loved the fact that the developer was ready to put his own name behind the app. This shows seriousness. Additionally, he was ready to give us a full free version, with only 3 small limitations, and charge around $3 (depending on exchange rates) for the full version - a very fair price comparing to all others that were offering similar functionality.

So I decided to test it, and my conclusions are here for you after the break.

The Google side

The app is based on using the Cloud Print service from Google. The service supports 3 kinds of printers:

- Network printers which are ready to support Google Cloud Print.
- HP printers that support  HP's  e-Print.
- Regular classic printers, connected either by network or by USB to your computer, which don't support any cloud printing service.

In order to work with the last type of printers (my case), you need to have Google Chrome installed in the computer which is connected to your printer and keep it working even in the background. Otherwise, print jobs will stay waiting in line until the moment you activate Chrome to do something, and then all jobs will be printed. 

Google actually manages all this stuff through the browser. That was the way they found to do it in computers which don't use the Chrome OS. They save at your Google account the definition of all your printers, should they be network printers, USB printers, or even printers shared with you through third parties (like the hotel printer).

In order to maintain your printers, or to do the first definition, you need to open the Chrome browser, go to the menu, choose Settings, and then click the linkt to present the advanced settings at the end of the page.

After that, you should scroll down to the end of the page, where you will find the Cloud Print settings.

As you can see, here they are. You can press the button "Manage print settings" and it will lead you to the following page for Google Cloud Print:

This page shows you either your Print Jobs or your Printers, according to what you choose. At the Printers list, you can define your default printer, share printers with others, receive shared printers, etc. You can also, by pressing the red Print button, print a file from your computer.

Now, the smartphone side

As I said, first thing you need to do is to download the CLOUD PRINT app., you can either do it from this link or use the following barcode:

 

QRCode

This is the way it works.

First, the software gives you the ability to define your printers, receive the printers shared with you, etc.

It also lets you choose your default printer for the specific device.

The main page is divided in 3 parts. Local, Web and Main menu. "Local" lets you print items which are local in your device, like files, pictures, SMS messages, contacts, and even print directly from your camera after you shoot a picture.

Web enables printing directly from GMail/K9Mail, from Dropbox in the web, pictures from Facebook and items from Google Calendar.

If you are using the Free version, printing from Dropbox is allowed only during the first 5 days of use, after that you need to purchase the $3 version. There are also some limitations in printing from Facebook.

You can take into account that if you have the Dropbox application in your device, all the Dropbox items are already local in the device, and you can print them from the Dropbox folder with a file manager.

However, let's face it: $3 for this software is a very fair price. I have paid it even for encouraging the developer to enhance further the software.

Another nice function is the inclusion of Cloud Print link in all the Share buttons...

So all you need to do is to choose any item in your device, share it and choose Cloud Print as the sharing engine.

Want a live demo?

I bet you do. That's why I have recorded this 4-minute video for you to take a look on how it works.

Conclusion

In the middle of this mess that still exists today, we can say that printing from your devices is becoming easier and easier. Thanks to services like Google Cloud Print we can do tasks that we weren't able to do so simply in the past.

Cloud Print from Paulo Fernandes is the best companion I found for Google Cloud Print. The application is definitely worth it, and after using it for the first time I have it installed both in my phone and in my tablet.

I have used it and enjoyed it. Recommend to everyone.