Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

Summary: The idea of printing a document from your smartphone directly to a printer at home or the office is a good one. And I applaud Google for trying to meet this need.

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The idea of printing a document from your smartphone directly to a printer at home or the office is a good one. And I applaud Google for trying to meet this need.

But there's no way that today's release of Google Cloud Print is getting a thumbs up from me. The company should have kept this product in the lab and waited until it was ready. Clearly, it's not.

Let's break down the reasons why:

First and foremost, the printer has to be connected to a computer for this feature to work. Let's put aside for a second that it has to be a Windows machine - not a huge deal because Mac and Linux support is coming.

But, in an age where laptops dominate and home networks are commonplace, how many people actually still keep a computer and printed physically attached to each other? At my home, the printer is a standalone device on the wireless network, accessible to the several computers connected to that network. I know I'm not the only one.

(Is that supposed to be a desktop computer in that image to the right?)

Second, the company's blog post says that the service "allows printing from any app on any device, OS or browser without the need to install drivers" - except that you have to "enable" the Google Cloud Print connector in the latest version of Chrome for it to work.

Call it a "connector" if you'd like - but that sounds an awful lot like a driver to me. And, requiring the latest version of Chrome for it to work doesn't sound much like "any device, OS or browser."

Third, the company talks about printing from any app - but then, in its explanation of how it works, instructs users to go to gmail.com from the iPhone or Android browser to print.

So, there's no support for the Gmail app? Users who read their mail in the app will have to go launch the browser, direct it to gmail.com, open the email again and then print?  And, as much as I hate to split hairs, printing from an iPhone or Android device is hardly the same as printing from "any device."

Finally, the computer at home or in the office must be powered on and the user must be logged on for the print to take place - otherwise, it will print when you arrive and plug in, according to the FAQ about the service. For that matter, I could just print it when I get back to the office and am sitting near the printer.

In most instances, I'm bullish on the products and services that Google rolls out, even those that are incomplete, still working their way out of Labs or are launched in "beta." I want to be bullish on Google Cloud Print, too - but I just can't be.

This product needs way more work for it to be taken seriously. Google should either take this product back its drawing board or slap a BETA label on it in flashing red letters so we know what we're really getting into.

Topics: Google, Banking, Browser, CXO, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Printers, Software

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34 comments
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  • Exactly!! Printing is going away, but, Google's cloud print needs work yet.

    NT.
    DonnieBoy
  • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

    Is this article in beta or labs? The punctuation would seem so. Why did you rush this to the web?

    Maybe, the answers are more alike than you think?
    Jared Neale
  • Legacy v cloud aware

    There are two half to Google Cloud Print. The one you are talking about is the legacy half, which is to maintain compatibility with legacy printers. New printers that are cloud print aware will not need to be hooked up to the Internet.
    chadwick3
    • Right, current internet connected printers, like HP Jet Direct should be

      supported though, so you can connect and print automatically.
      DonnieBoy
    • Another point, some manufacturers might never support Google's cloud print

      So, Google needs to figure out a better way to support legacy internet connected printers.
      DonnieBoy
  • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

    it sure beats what microsoft and apple have to offer, as usual.
    wraith404
    • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

      Actually I can do remote printing to my Win7 computer now once I add it to my homegroup. I actually have a standard and a wireless printer and it works with both. The standard does require my desktop to be on but not the wireless.
      midcapwarrior@...
      • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

        @midcapwarrior@... So you can print from your homegroup...on your phone?
        Californian
      • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

        @midcapwarrior@... Did you read the article? I'm pretty sure your Windows homegroup status means nothing to Android or iPhone.
        K0DEAN
  • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

    Google will try anything to hook more people into their spyware. Gmail and Android to be avoided like the plague they are.
    jorjitop
    • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

      @jorjitop Funny....I've been using Google Gmail, and other products by Google, including Android, for years, without any "spyware". Even had a few enterprise clients where I worked that dumped Outlook for Gmail, without problems. Some anti-Google people will say anything to get their anti-Google message across. I suspect you would be unable to supply correct references to such "spyware".
      jeyroberson@...
  • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

    I have been following the Googling Google blog for a long time but now, between Chris and Sam, it has become more of an anti-Google blog - maybe the name should change to Bashing Google!
    CCTEO1
    • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

      @CCTEO1 It's funny that you would say that because, over at the BTL blog, I've kind of been labeled as being too pro-Google. (which means I must fall right into the median somewhere.) In fact, I even paused for a minute to think that my first post on this blog would be about something that I didn't like.

      This post aside, I hope you'll continue to read and see if the energy between myself and Chris enhances the content for you.

      Thanks for reading - and for chiming in.
      sldiaz
      • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

        @sldiaz I will definitely continue to read the blog :) ... The information here is always prompt and interesting, I was just noticing a change of tone. Keep bringing us the latest G-news!
        CCTEO1
    • I would have to disagree. They both like Google, but, are never afraid to

      to point out problems. This article by Sam was right on. Google has a lot of work to do before cloud print will be viable. That said, I think it is a great idea for the print problem. Even as we transition away from printing, we need a transition solution.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

        @DonnieBoy Google always releases software applications that are not ready for prime time, but this is how they get early feedback and, when necessary, kill projects quickly (see Wave for example).
        CCTEO1
  • wifi

    Printers have been on wireless for years now...
    Hasam1991
  • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

    It appears that Google have slapped the BETA tag on it already by the looks of things. Maybe Google do actually look at these pages of wisdom??????
    robert.dollin@...
  • RE: Google Cloud Print: A 2001 solution to a 2011 problem

    FYI, it still lets you use network printers. So are you concerned because you have a Blackberry? I'm not sure if you've noticed, but people have fallen away from building things that work in really backwards browsers...should they support IE6 too? "Any device" means anything with HTML5. I'll give you the Chrome-only part, but how could they make it browser agnostic?
    Californian
  • The Author of this article....

    Really needs a reality check. What he is proposing...nay, expecting even.... is that printers just magically find a portal to the cloud, sit there with a magical (static) IP address, and then become available to anyone and everyone on the internet, even if they happen to access it with a limited device such as a phone. Yes, there are internet printers out there... but mind you, they only work because the manufacturer of said printer makes it possible to "look up" their IP address through their (free or for pay) servers. Their printers look up the server and send it their dynamic IP, and then the server makes that IP available for consuming devices - with some security thrown in (I hope).

    No offense, but I have a feeling in my gut that Mr. Diaz is not all that familiar with the technological and security issues involved with this type of implementation.
    rock06r