Apple’s mobile iDevices have progressed rapidly in just three short years. At first there were no 3rd party apps or games. The past few years brought us a gazillion apps and games.
But our iDevices couldn’t do simple tasks like copy and paste or print. Now, we can do both. Kinda sorta. Apple got the copy and paste part just right. Printing? There are three ways to print from iPhone to Mac, but only one is pretty.
Not Ready For Primetime Printing
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch users want to be able to print. Apple probably wants iDevice users to print, too, but copy and paste was more important.
Apple promised wireless printing would show up in the latest update of iOS.
It’s here, so how does it work?
As it turns out, Apple’s version of printing from iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch isn’t all that and more. It’s less. Printing from iDevice to printer still isn’t ready for primetime.
3 Ways To Print
The old way, the original way, to print from an Apple iDevice was inelegant, cumbersome, troublesome, and multi-step. Printing an iDevice screen shot or photo or document, for example, was best done by emailing it to your Mac.
Some documents could be synchronized to your Mac, but it was your Mac doing all the printing, not the iPhone, or iPad, or iPod touch.
The second way is Apple’s new method for iDevice printing. It’s called AirPrint and provides wireless printing but only to specific HP ePrinters. What’s up with that? HP printers are popular but they’re not the only ink-jet-cartridge scam in town, right? Apple veep Phil Schiller:
AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS—no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download. iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to an HP ePrint printer or to a printer shared on a Mac or PC.
For the few apps that connect to Apple’s built-in printing capability, it works. For the few printers on the approved list. For everything else, there’s Printopia, the surprise app behind door #3.
Printopia is the best way to print using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Once installed on your Mac, Printopia is a Preference Pane that lets you select and use any printer connected to your Mac.
Printopia finds the printers already connected to your Mac and makes them available for wireless printing from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
First, you’ll need to upgrade your Apple iDevice to run iOS 4.2.1 or later. It’s available for iPhone 4, iPad, and newer iPod touch devices.
Second, apps that support printing will have an extra setting, such as this one in Photos. Note the addition of a Print option button.
Pressing the Print button brings up another dialog box in your iDevice window.
Isn’t that beautiful? Printopia found my default printer and all that’s necessary is to press the Print button. But there’s even more to Printopia.
Not only can Printopia let you select different printer options, it can also print to your Dropbox account and folder, or send the document to your Mac (as a JPEG or PDF file).
This is the way wireless printing from iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch was meant to be.
It’s simple. It’s integrated in your iDevice and it works behind the scenes on your Mac.
Once you install Printopia it’s pretty much set it and forget it.
You won’t need to sync up your iDevice to your Mac. But you will need to be on the same home or office wireless network, of course. If your Mac has a printer connected to it, Printopia can find it, and your iDevice can print to it.
Caveats? A few, but not with Printopia. iDevice apps need to be able to take advantage of AirPrint (Apple’s wireless printing function). Not many apps do. Yet. For example, web pages in Safari (iOS 4.2.1) have the print option.
Ditto for Photos and a few other apps. The Share button in most apps does not bring up the Print option.
Apple’s AirPrint is welcome but incomplete. Printopia simply extends the real promise of wireless printing from iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to your Mac.