Cloud printing system is unveiled for Android and iPhone users
Google users can now print from their smartphones - although why they would want to isn't exactly clear.
Last year, Google said it was working on a cloud printing system, so that its web-based Chrome OS could use printers without installing drivers.
The system was already in use for the limited group of testers handed a Chrome OS netbook by Google, but it has now been opened up to anyone with a smartphone running Android 2.1 or iOS 3 or above.
So far, the system lets users print from Gmail or Google Docs. Other than avoiding driver issues with Chrome OS, it's not entirely clear how useful the system could be, as the PC the printer is linked to must be left on and the user logged in.
"Just as when your printer is offline, if you are using the Google Chrome proxy and your Windows user account is logged off, jobs will be saved and fetched normally when you log back in," Google states on the cloud printing help centre
Google had one suggestion for using the system, from Tyler Odean of the cloud print team. "Imagine printing an important document from your smartphone on the way to work and finding the printout waiting for you when you walk in the door," he wrote in a blog post.
However, the service has potential privacy and corporate confidentiality implications as it keeps a record of all print jobs, including the document title and the printer it was sent to. "We need this information in order to process the jobs you send for printing, and to allow you to view and edit your printing history through the Cloud Print dashboard," Google said.
To use the system, upgrade to the latest version of Chrome browser and head here to set up your printers. Then, open up Gmail on your smartphone and look for the "Print" option in the drop down menu in the top right corner.
Cloud printing is being rolled out over the next few days to users with the US English language set as the default in their account settings. At the moment, it only works with Windows, but Mac and Linux support is coming soon, Google said.