Since its release in June 2007, the Apple iPhone has proved extremely successful and part of this success is due to the availability of applications, or apps, which enable users to perform a huge range of tasks on their iPhone. Printer manufacturers are always looking for an edge in a fiercely competitive market, so it should come as no surprise that some of them have developed printing apps to try and tap into the success of the iPhone.
HP developed one of the first printing apps, iPrint Photo, back in 2008 and Canon jumped on the bandwagon earlier this month with the Easy PhotoPrint for iPhone (mercifully shortened to iEPP).
HP iPrint Photo allows users to print borderless 10 x 15cm photos from an iPhone or iPod Touch to a Wi-Fi connected HP printer. It has proved successful as it supports a wide range of wireless inkjet printers and is compatible with Apple Bonjour so it can automatically detect any supported HP printers on the wireless network.
Canon iEPP currently supports just three printers; the Pixma MP990, MP640 and MP560 and, like iPrint Photo, allows printing from an iPhone or iPod Touch. The touchscreen technology makes it easy to review thumbnail images and to expand them for a clearer print preview. The application supports various Canon media and allows for bordered or borderless printing. To download Easy PhotoPrint for iPhone, simply access the apps store via your iPhone and search for "photoprint".
We’ve previously questioned the need for printers that can connect and print directly from the web (HP Introduces World's First Web-connected Home Printer and Lexmark Announces Range of Web Printers) and there still seems little point to them but the ability to print images directly from an iPhone no doubt appeals to a lot of people, so anything which makes it easier can only be good news. Even better news for iPhone users is that, unlike many apps, Canon iEPP and HP iPrint Photo are free to download.
Printers aren’t exactly the most exciting pieces of technology, so manufacturers put a great deal of effort into making them easier and more fun to use, hence the apps. Xerox has gone a slightly different way, though, by launching an app that enables you to access information about its new solid ink printer, the ColorQube, from your iPhone. You can't print on the ColorQube with the new app but you can check specifications, marketing materials and even demo videos - even when you’re away from the office. No doubt the news will come as a great relief to managers up and down the country who have been unable to leave the office for fear of missing out on the latest ColorQube info!
Mobile phones started life as fairly simple devices which could just make and receive calls and evolved into the portable office/ entertainment centres we have now. Printers, particularly inkjet multifunction devices for home use, are going down a similar road as the technology continues to develop. The result is that printers can now do more than ever before as manufacturers try to outdo each other; inevitably there will be some flops along the way but even the rubbish ideas give us something interesting to talk about.
by Anthony Morgan