Mobile still rules in 2012
I recently attended a technology round table discussion over lunch with a group of IT professionals from the Baltimore/ Washington area. Not surprisingly, the two main topics of discourse were the Cloud and mobile technology. I’ll leave the blog feedback on the Cloud to my colleague Kevin O’Brien. For me, it was the conversation about the future of mobile technologies that was of particular interest.
Here at Advance, we are experiencing a growing number of clients asking us to help them implement a mobile printing solution, and we believe that trend will certainly continue.
The term “mobile printing” has gone through a number of definitions, and is still evolving. A few years back it may have referred to printing wirelessly from a laptop computer. Then it shifted into printing from a USB media drive, then from a smart phone, and now from a tablet. And, the devices themselves are changing. Soon tablets won’t be larger smartphones with a mobile operating system, but more like smaller, lighter, sleeker, touch screen computers running a full operating system, such as Microsoft’s Windows 8 or Apple’s Mountain Lion. These devices will continue to give users access to information that they desire as consumers, but more importantly, they will be able to access mission critical business information without being trapped behind a desk at the office.
The challenge for IT professionals has become how to manage the growing number of mobile devices that their users already have, or might want to get, to use on a securely protected business network. At Advance, we have been helping our clients implement printing solutions for these mobile devices to our multifunctional digital copiers (MFDs). Because Apple’s iPhone and iPad products have been so successful, many of the mobile printing technologies are built around Apple’s AirPrint. In case you somehow missed it, Apple just released the new iPad (commonly referred to as iPad 3), so we are expecting our clients to continue to desire printing from iPads for the foreseeable future. For users with non-Apple devices, such as Android or BlackBerry, mobile printing options are typically based around an Email to Print methodology. The following are just a sample of some of our available solutions:
EFI PrintMe Connect: An Apple AirPrint solution that allows iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) running 4.2 or later, to directly print to a Fiery enabled MFD (multifunctional device). This solution requires free software to be installed and running on the same wireless network that the Fiery devices are installed on. Using that wireless network, users can select any Fiery to print to, without needing a specific driver or app, directly from their iOS device. Newer Fiery devices no longer require software and have native AirPrint capabilities.
EFI PrintMe: A subscription based solution for Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE MFDs, this solution allows any Internet enabled device, such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop, to send an email to the EFI PrintMe service (email@example.com), which can contain document or photo attachments. The user receives an email back, which provides a numeric release code. The user then selects the PrintMe icon on the imageRUNNER ADVANCE touch screen, and enters the document ID release code. The job is printed as it was sent, either in b/w or color. Users can also upload documents to the PrintMe service via a web page @ www.printme.com.
HotSpot: A Ricoh/Savin subscription based solution. This solution allows any Internet enabled device, such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop, to send an email to the Ricoh/Savin HotSpot service (unique email address of the MFD), which can contain document or photo attachments. The user receives an email back, which provides a numeric release code. The user then selects the “Other Function” button on the MFD and enters the release code. The job is printed as it was sent, either in b/w or color. Users can also upload documents to the HotSpot service via a custom branded Webpage. The Advance Webpage is www.printeron.net/ricoh/501320.
For a video demonstration of how some of these technologies work, click here.
As we look toward the future of mobile printing, as it relates to MFDs, we anticipate that the manufacturers we represent, Ricoh and Canon, will begin to incorporate native mobile printing solutions into their machines. This might include AirPrint capabilities, the use of a mobile app for non-Apple devices, or even software based solutions to capture all mobile device printing. Stayed tuned—because we will keep you up to date as the newest technologies are introduced. After all, we live and breathe this stuff! To find out more about mobile printing and what Advance can do for you, check us out here.