After improving your battery life last weekend, it's time for another Weekend Project. I bet you have a printer in your house / office. I bet now and again you'd like to be able to print to it. I bet it's not set up on your device, is it? See, I knew it! In this week's Weekend Project, we'll help you get set up!
First things first - printing on Android sucks a bit. Why do I say that? Simply, the implementations are rather mixed in quality and features, a fact that is an inevitability since Google haven't seen fit to bake proper printing support into Android. Maybe in the future... but not yet!
With that out of the way, let's talk about the best way to get printing from your Android device!
WiFi printer? Check out the manufacturer option.
Do you have a WiFi enabled printer? If so, then your first port of call should be the Play Store to look for your manufacturers own app. I use a Brother multifunction inkjet printer and although the official Brother app, Brother iPrint&Scan isn't THE most advanced app ever, it does let me print PDFs, print photos and scan photos in. HP have their ePrint app, Canon have their Easy-PhotoPrint app, Epson have their iPrint app and so on and so forth.
WiFi printer but want more? Check out PrinterShare.
Third party application options in the print space are limited in number but even more limited in functionality. For me there is only one stand out app, and that is PrinterShare Mobile Print. PrinterShare lets you print documents of just about any type, Gmail messages (the ONLY app I can find to do this!), photos, contacts, sms/mms and much more directly from your device to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB printers as well as Windows shared (SMB/CIFS) or Mac shared printers.
It really is pretty excellent, but there's a downside - you really need to buy the £7.95 Premium unlock key to get the most out of it. :(
Printer not WiFi enabled? Looking for another way / cheaper way?
If your printer isn't WiFi enabled or you don't fancy shelling out for PrinterShare, there is another way - and that way is Google Cloud Print. Google Cloud Print allows you to share printers that are attached to your PCs running Chrome. After setting up your printer at the Cloud Print website, they then become available in all Cloud Print compatible apps. Setting up your printers this way also enables printing directly from Google Docs online and printers can be shared with people you choose.
When it comes to using Cloud Print on your device, PrinterShare mentioned above includes support, but there is a cheaper app, Cloud Print. Cloud Print is ad supported with some limitations (such as limited printing from Facebook / Dropbox), but the unlock key is a very reasonable £1.64 - it's money well spent.
Of course, the downside of Google Cloud Print is that you need to have your PC on in order to print from your device. There is an exception to this - some HP, Kodak, Epson, Canon and Samsung printers are now 'Cloud Print Ready', in that they can connect directly to your Google account to bypass this requirement. I'm definitely going to make sure my next printer is Cloud Print enabled!
Head on over to the Google Cloud Print website to learn more and get set up,
There are a couple of other applications out there for printing, but PrinterShare and Cloud Print are definitely the top two worth investigating. If you have another tip for our readers or indeed if you've just found the guide useful... please post in the comments. :)