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Google Unveils Plan for Printing on the Cloud, Hopes to Do Away with Pesky Print Drivers

In a recent post on Google‘s Chromium blog, the company reveals that it has been thinking long and hard about how to deal with a commonplace annoyance with the potential to handicap cloud computing and make the company’s web-based apps less useful: Printing. Specifically, “printing” as we know it today, involving print drivers that need to be installed for computers to communicate with nearby printers — and which are often only available on CD-ROMs.

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Google Cloud Print isn’t yet fully worked out, but Google’s aim is that in the future, web apps using it will be able to print to any printer, regardless of drivers or operating system — even if they’re running from a mobile phone or other device:

Chromium Blog:

Since in Google Chrome OS all applications are web apps, we wanted to design a printing experience that would enable web apps to give users the full printing capabilities that native apps have today. Using the one component all major devices and operating systems have in common– access to the cloud– today we’re introducing some preliminary designs for a project called Google Cloud Print, a service that enables any application (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer.

Rather than rely on the local operating system (or drivers) to print, apps can use Google Cloud Print to submit and manage print jobs. Google Cloud Print will then be responsible for sending the print job to the appropriate printer with the particular options the user selected, and returning the job status to the app.

Google has released public code and documentation for Cloud Print as part of its Chromium and Chromium OS projects.

In the comments section of Google’s post, some readers raise concerns that there’s something inefficient, even “wasteful” about shipping the work of printing off to the cloud without regard for local context. And HP’s new wave of printers arguably don’t need Cloud Print, as they’re set up such that all you need is to plug a USB cable into the host computer.

Cloud Print may not change the world, but it’s an example of the many little projects that Google takes on that one might not even think about of their own accord, which, taken together, help push computing towards Google’s cloud, like it or not.

(Chromium Blog via @mattcutts’ Twitter)

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