The latest development version of Google Chrome (9.0.597.10 dev) has new functionality built in called Google Cloud Print. It’s basically a printer proxy service. It works by identifying the printers available on your PC, and making them available through your Google Account. At the moment you can add your printers and then mange your printers. There is also a simple test print that can be performed.
Currently no applications are Google Cloud Print aware, so the test print is all you can do. According to Google, Chrome OS is to be the first cab off the rank to be Google Cloud Print aware, closely followed by smartphones. Eventually an API will be released to enable integration with various operating systems and applications.
What are the limitations? Well firstly, no Google Cloud Print capable printers exist yet. Google have released code that printer manufacturers can use to implement Cloud Print aware printers, so it’ll only be a matter of time before one is released. Until then you need to use your PC (Windows only at this stage) to integrate your locally installed printers. So to print, your PC on which the local printers are installed needs to powered on. If it isn’t the print jobs will be queued until the PC is powered on and the user is logged in who registered the printers. Once cloud aware printers become available this will no longer be required, and as long as the printer is powered on you’ll be able to print.
So what are the possibilities? Here’s a couple of examples. You’ll be able to print from anywhere to your printer without the need to install printer drivers onto the device. As long as the device can use the Google Cloud Print API. So you could quite easily receive an email or take a photo on your Android and print it back to the office printer. Nice. How about you have a visitor in the office and they need to print. Cloud printing should make this a lot easy, no more printer driver hunting.