Here’s where the story gets interesting. Figure 6 shows what you would expect to see if everything worked the way it was supposed to work. It didn’t. Despite my best efforts to associate my printer through Google Chrome, I was never able to get it connected. I tried installing Chrome on my Windows 7 system as well as two different XP systems – all with the same result. My default Kodak printer never appeared as an installed device.
Even more frustrating, when I clicked on Add a Classic Printer, I landed on an FAQ page that merely instructed me to go through the same process that hadn’t worked. If the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, I must be truly insane. I tried to associate my printer multiple times on multiple systems, but the default printer never appeared.
I searched through the Google forums and discovered that a number of people had had the exact same problems as I did. While some were able to resolve their problems by using an updated version of Chrome, I was already using the latest version. I guess you have to expect some bugs and some aggravation when using a beta product.
By now, I’ve probably piqued your interest. How did I get it to work? I cheated – sort of. I searched the Kodak support site and found that Kodak has a Cloud Printing Software Connector. Kodak’s FAQ that walks you through setting up the Kodak connector also includes instructions to disable “Google Cloud Print” in Chrome if it has been enabled.
Like the Chrome-based connector, the Kodak software connector setup has you log into your Google account to connect your printer. Once connected, you can manage Google Cloud Printer from the Google’s standard Cloud Print home page.
In addition to the standard Google cloud print features, the Kodak connector also provides you with the ability to print to a unique email address. During the Kodak connector setup process, you are assigned an 8 character email address @kodakprint.com as shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7: Kodak Email Print Service setup
If you are worried about someone guessing your email print address and flooding you with spam, you can restrict email printer access by limiting printer access to specific email addresses or domains (Figure 8).
Figure 8: Email Access Control
What can you print from where?
Assuming that you’ve been able to get your classic printer or cloudprint-enabled printer connected to your Google account, Google Cloud Print opens up a number of printing options – especially if you are interested in mobile printing applications. Google has provided a list of Cloud Print enabled applications and printing applications here.
First on the Google list is support for Chromebooks. Any open tab on your Chromebook can be printed by hitting Ctrl + P or Print.
As you would expect, there is a lot of Cloud Print support for Android devices. Google Docs is supported through the print2docs feature. The printing applications page also includes links to a number of third party products that work with Google Cloud Print. Some are free, while others are “premium” apps that you pay for.
On my personal Droid, I purchased and installed the premium version of PrinterShare. Figure 9 shows a screen shot of the main screen. As you can see, PrinterShare is connected to my Kodak Google Cloud Print printer and provides not only the ability to print Google docs, but also web pages, contacts, Gmail, etc. This application works well, and for me, it was worth the $12.95. I’ve printed documents, email, contacts and photos using the application.
Figure 9: PrinterShare Premium main screen
In addition, there’s an iOS application, PrintCentral Pro, which provides similar functionality for iPhones/iPod Touch and iPads. For Macs and Windows computers, there’s a Google Chrome extension that allows you to print PDF, Word, text, JPG or Google Docs documents directly from the browser’s address bar. Finally, there’s a MacOS application that allows you to print from any application using the Mac print menu. It’s available directly from the developer or from the Mac App store.
As the Google Cloud Print web site indicates, Google Cloud Print is still a beta product, so you may expect to find some bumps along the road to cloud printing. Probably the safest and easiest path to cloud printing would be to purchase a printer that’s already cloud-enabled. With one of these printers, at least you’d have access to live tech support – something that just doesn’t exist for the masses on Google. And cloud-enabled printers support all of the cloud print features without having to leave a computer running with connector software.
The list of cloud-print enabled mobile applications is currently fairly small. So rather than printing from within an application, you’ll undoubtedly end up with some type of application that lets you print from multiple sources such as the one I purchased. Still, even with the tools available, I’m finding cloud printing to be very useful. I especially like the ability to print via email – a feature supported by Kodak, HP and other printer manufacturers as well as third party providers. I can’t wait to see how Google Cloud Print evolves as it completes its beta development and moves into the mainstream.