Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to Print from Your Verizon iPhone 4 or any Smartphone using Google Cloud Print

Google Cloud Print Screen on the Verizon iPhone 4
The Verizon iPhone 4 inspired my curiosity about smartphone printing...

For the last few weeks, I have been reviewing the Verizon iPhone4.  It took Apple a while, but they finally married their iconic smartphone with what is hands down the best wireless network to make a great device even better.  From the box (only Apple could make a product box that reminds me of Tiffany), to the sleek jet black on black phone, to the awesome camera with flash, to the fact I could use it as a super fast wifi hotspot, it was all good.

One of the features of the iPhone 4 is the ability to print photos from the iPhone wirelessly on a network printer.  The iPhone 4 uses an app called AIR PHOTO WIFI PRINTING paired with a PC app called AIR PHOTO to allow you to send photos from your iPhone to your wifi network printer. Very Cool, but printing photos is really not something that I do very often on my printer.

So as I was packing up the iPhone 4 to send back (Thanks so much Verizon for the experience), I got to thinking if there was a way to print from ANY smartphone to a network printer. And I wanted to print documents, not photos.

Google Cloud Printing

I use Google Mail (Gmail) for my primary mail account and Google Chrome for my primary web browser on my PC.  A quick Google search yielded me exactly what I wanted to know to setup printing from my smartphone.  It turns out that Gmail and Chrome are the perfect combination for using a feature called Google Cloud Printing.

Google Cloud Print makes printing more intuitive, accessible and useful, by letting you print to your network printers from Google Cloud Print-enabled apps on any computer or smart phone.

Here are the steps that I used to setup Google Cloud Print:

1.  Download Google Chrome Browser to your PC. If like me, you are already using Chrome, skip this step.

2. Click on the "Wrench" icon in the right hand corner. From this menu choose "OPTIONS".  On the "OPTIONS" Menu, choose "UNDER THE HOOD".  At the bottom of the "UNDER THE HOOD" screen, you will see a box called "ENABLE GOOGLE CLOUD PRINT".  

3. When you enable Google Cloud Print, you must enter the Gmail ids that are authorized to use the Google Cloud Print feature on your network printers.  You will also see a list of all the network printers that are connected to the Chrome browser. Once you setup the authorized Gmail users and the network printers, you are done.

4. On your smartphone you will not be able to use the Gmail app from the iPhone or Android app store.  You must use your browser and navigate to m.gmail.com, which is the mobile version of Google Mail.

5. Once you sign-in to your Gmail account (with the Gmail id that you authorized for the print), pick an email, and click on the down arrow at the top of the page.  The PRINT option will be toward the bottom of the menu list.

6. Click on PRINT and a list of authorized network printers will display (see the photo at the top of this post). Choose a printer and press the PRINT button.

7. If the printer you chose is online, the email you selected will print. If the printer is offline, the email will be held in the Google Print Cloud queue until the printer is back online.

My Observations of Google Cloud Print

Using this option to print is good if you need a quick and dirty print of an email, because that it what you will get.  Formatting is very limited.  Now I don't mind the lack of formatting because there really are times when I just need a quick print out when my PC is turned off.

Using this option to print will waste a lot of paper. Why? Because for some reason, the printing has lots of white space all around the words so you will probably use 2-3 times the amount of paper that you would normally use. So only use this option to print short 1-2 page emails.

Google says they have plans to Google Cloud Print-enable more apps over time.  Hopefully, it will also fix some of these formatting issues as the feature is rolled out.

For more detailed info on Google Cloud Print, go to Google Cloud Print Support.


Disclosure: I was loaned the Verizon iPhone 4 for the purpose of writing a review and stating my unbiased opinion. I was not compensated for this post.

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