Print Using Mobile Devices on the Go

by September 16, 2015 0 comments

There are no easy ways to print from your mobile device but things are getting simpler through a slew of wireless printing techniques now available and a new industry alliance set to standardise printing techniques

In this age of mobility, with proliferating 5-inch, affordable and reasonably decent smartphones and business apps, there’s a tremendous incentive for ecommerce and other businesses to push their products and information associated with them onto the users’ smartphones. A key part of the enterprise mobility strategy therefore has to be the safe storage and documentation of this information. But there’s a catch, and a big one at that. When they first set upon formulating the information security and privacy policies for today’s organizations they visualised a tightly controlled and monitored computing model where all employees relied on organisations to provide the basic computing capabilities and network access. Those days, policies were simple to manage on enterprise-owned assets such as a workstation or a PDA with simple guidelines on how to handle consumer data. The security was enforced using encryption software with very strong password protection and, in many cases, two-factor mechanisms to control how employees accessed the company’s applications and data. In a nutshell, it was a highly standardized computing model which made support processes simpler and testing and deployment of applications to these devices easier. Forget a vivid enterprise mobile strategy, nobody even gave a thought to printing documents from mobile devices that users brought to office or even building apps that could enable such functionality.
The need to develop simpler policies to enable printing on the go
In this age of mobility, policies related to printing have to be more flexible and the ability to print docs on the go should not be complex to enforce and manage. However, the safeguards that worked well in the standardized environment are now inadequate to address the risk posed by the use of personally owned mobile devices and anytime, anywhere, network access. So, it becomes imperative on organisations to address these policies first before setting up policies for mobile printing within their organisation. Smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers afford employees the flexibility to be productive at home, at work, and on the go. However, the use of personal devices for business and the variety of mobile platforms available can add complexity and raise management concerns. Users want easy and reliable printing from any mobile platform or operating system. At the same time, IT administrators need control over network access and printer output to protect confidential information and manage printing costs.
The printer manufacturers have been working closely with leading manufacturers of mobile devices to integrate printing functionality into popular mobile operating systems like iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. HP provides support for embedded print functionality across Apple iOS through AirPrint, and for Android through the ePrint App.
Printing through peer-to-peer wireless connections
Mobile printing can be enabled through a wireless direct connection and NFC technologies. Both methods enable a secure peer-to-peer connection between the mobile device and the printer, allowing users to print without accessing the company network. Most enterprise class printers and MFPs feature integrated wireless direct and touch-to-print functionality. With an isolated peer-to-peer connection, you can allow employees to print from their personal devices without worrying about putting your IT environment at risk. Print files are encrypted, and with a configurable passphrase you can control who is connecting to your office printers. And even in cases where it is not included with your MFP, you can easily add this capability through mobile printing accessories that enable the same for your printer.
If you’re looking to deploy mobile printing across an existing multi-vendor fleet and need comprehensive management options, then you’ve got server-based solutions that let you email documents from your mobile device to print at the nearest printer available. Some of the key techniques that enable wireless printing are:
Wireless direct printing: To use wireless direct printing, employees simply connect their mobile device to a printer or MFP in the same way they would discover and connect to any public wireless network. However, the mobile device should have embedded print functionality or have the mobile printing app from the vendor concerned. They just need to access the print function from the document they want to print, select the printer or MFP, and press the Print option.
Touch-to-print: With touch-to-print, you can just walk up and print from your NFC print-enabled smartphone or tablet with just a touch to the printer. NFC, or near field communication, automatically discovers the nearest NFC-enabled printer for you, and creates a one-to-one connection using wireless technology.
Cloud-based apps: The cloud-based apps that come with select MFP models let you access your MFP’s print, scan, and copy functions over your mobile device through Wi-Fi. You can capture documents using the camera on your mobile device and upload them to the cloud. Some of the apps also provide features that automatically detect edges, straighten, crop, and sharpen the image. Such cloud-based apps come with MFPs from popular vendors and are available for Apple and Android devices and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Private cloud-based mobile print solutions
Such mobile printing solutions enable employees to print from mobile devices to printers on your network. They also enable workers on the go to print documents securely at public print locations supported by the vendor. Through this solution you can keep a close eye on what all is being printed within your network without the risk of any security threat or infected file creeping into the firewalls of your network. Such solutions are meant to seamlessly integrate with your existing infrastructure— devices, policies, and tools—and allow administrators to control printer availability and easily add or suspend users while synchronizing accounts with existing databases. You can even manage licenses across multiple deployments. By using a plug-in for mobile users you can enable them as well to securely connect to your server from outside the firewall.
Mopria print services
Customers want to print from their mobile devices but today’s methods to print hardly support printing from mobile devices. Driving a single standard across the entire MFP industry and amongst mobile device manufacturers helps solve this problem. The Mopria Alliance was set up by Canon, HP, Samsung and Xerox to formulate a set of standards that helps make printing from smartphones, tablets and mobile devices simpler. All participating manufacturers will execute a single set of printing standards across their MFPs and all customers need to do is look for the Mopria mark to know that they can instantly and easily wirelessly print from their mobile devices to identified printers without additional set up procedures. The set of standards offers the following benefits to consumers: Easily print whenever and wherever you want, and there’s no complicated set up required – devices are print ready the moment you start using them.
Eventually the basic Mopria print functionality will be embedded in the phone, tablet and other mobile devices. Currently, the technology is provided as an app for users with Android 4.4 and above mobile devices. To use it, they need a Mopria-certified printer or access to one and both the printer and the mobile device have to be within the same network.

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