When mankind first started using computers one of the very first peripherals anybody would buy was a printer. Printing documents was just about the one thing people liked having computers for, and in the early days of dot matrix and bubblejet printers (before ink prices soared) people would print anything and everything at length.
Now people are beginning a wholesale move across to mobile devices, smartphones and tablets. Yet for some reason I'm still completely unable to phathom these devices still don't seem to come with native printer support.
To make matters even more confusing, many modern printers have supported wireless connectivity now for several years, more than long enough to allow the mobile and tablet operating system manufacturers to pull their collective fingers out.
This constantly boggles and amazes me as there are all manner of things we want to do with our phones and tablets, from booking journeys to online shopping and email, where printing support would come in extremely handy. Yet, still nothing but stony silence from the major operating system manufacturers.
It doesn't even strike me as technically difficult either. If you are connecting to a remote printer you will be doing so via wi-fi. The printer manufacturers would probably fall over backwards to add smartphone and tablet support to their driver-ranges, and it still doesn't happen.
It's not as if modern devices don't have the storage and the processing power for these drivers. Many smartphones regularly come with at least 8Gb or 16Gb of storage and they're now apperaring with dual-core processors.
So the great mystery continues. Why, unless we spend money on expensive third-party addons which may not even exist for your platform, are we being denied the one thing that was a cornerstone of the modern computing revolution? How is it that Microsoft, RIM, Apple and Google don't see printing as being either important or relevant to our daily lives?
It's not often I write a rhetorical article such as this. There is, sadly, no answer to this question at all and no hope that we'll get some any time soon. It's not a subject that any of the major operating system companies ever mention, despite printer manufacturers no doubt chomping at the bit to get into new markets and modern phones such as Nokia's N8 coming with USB ports.
So we're left in a strange place where the whole computing market is moving slowly and inexorably towards new forms of mobile computing and, at ever-increasing speed, away from the home office, while at the same time needing to keep the home office around for the next time we want to print a booking confirmation or an email.
Personally I find this situation immensely frustrating;after all, how hard can it be for printer manufacturers to come together to develop a single universal driver that will do the basics of text and photos (which is all we really need) that can then be bundled by default with modern smartphone and tablet operating systems. Such a driver would connect to compatible printers via wi-fi and, before you can say paper jam, there would be your hard copy... well, you know what I mean.
I'm really hoping that this situation resolves itself before too long so please, please show this article to every influential person you can find. I'd imaging you'll probably have to hand them a device where they can read it on the screen though :/Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.