New enterprise mobile printing app solves some problems, not all

Mobility is an important business strategy for many enterprises, and part of that approach
requires that employees print from their tablets and smartphones — a task that is much more
complicated than it sounds.

There are many mobile device printing app options and printing protocols from Apple and Google, but some say these
options are far from perfect.

Just finding a printer is so annoying that sometimes I want to
throw my iPad against a wall.

Adam Bookman,
Propelics, Inc.

“Printing from a tablet is a pain,” said Adam Bookman, founder of Propelics Inc., a mobile
consulting firm based in San Jose, Calif. “Just finding a printer is so annoying that sometimes I
want to throw my iPad
against a wall.”

Third-party mobile
printing
applications such as FingerPrint, AirPrint Activator and Printopia don’t work well
because of network subnet limitations in large enterprises, said industry watchers.

But one digital print management company recently overhauled its on-premises printing
application to specifically address the subnet limitation.

Electronics For Imaging Inc.’s (EFI) PrintMe Mobile printing app allows customers to print from
any mobile device to any networked printer over a Wi-Fi connection.

“Cracking the subnet limitation was huge because organizations already own great printers and
there’s no need to buy a new printer just because it has AirPrint baked in,” said Tom Offutt, EFI’s
director of business development.

EFI’s app creates a bridge between mobile devices and enterprise printers to make printing from
a mobile device much easier, he said.

PrintMe Mobile printing app features, limitations

Once installed in the data center, PrintMe Mobile finds the networked printers that IT
designates for mobile printing. Then, PrintMe Mobile uses Apple’s AirPrint protocol to make
 those printers available to mobile devices connected to the same network. Further, the
printing app installs a listening post on every enterprise network subnet that communicates back to
the PrintMe Mobile app to circumvent the subnet limitation.

With the app, IT can require enterprise identity credentials for specific printers, which are
then cached on the mobile device. This allows IT to track print jobs by user, or deny access to
specific printers, such as the CEO’s printer.

An end user can send print jobs to encrypted cloud server which will hold the print job until
the user is physically at a printer.

Those features and others are necessary for an effective mobile printing app because they
address the on-the-go nature of mobile, said Bookman, who has used the app.

But even with all of its features, PrintMe Mobile doesn’t address the biggest obstacle to
printing from mobile devices — remote employees.

“When we talk about real mobile use cases, it’s for doing work outside the office,” Bookman
said. “For example, if you’re a banker taking a meeting and you bring your iPad to another
organization and that organization doesn’t have a print solution, you can’t print. It doesn’t
matter if the organization you work for has figured out the problem.”

Until there’s standardization between mobile operating systems and printers, the problem
remains, he said.

PrintMe Mobile can help employees while they are at the office though.

The printing app  works for all major mobile platforms. Since it uses AirPrint, iOS devices
can use its native print functionality without downloading a new app. Android device users will
need to download a mobile app that creates AirPrint compatibility on devices and includes a print
button within Android’s share function.

BlackBerry and
Windows Phone
device users can print through email. EFI said it will build an app for Windows phones when there
is sufficient customer demand.

EFI has attempted to partner with Research In Motion (RIM) to create tools for Blackberry
devices,but RIM declined, Offutt said. Reasons were not disclosed.

IT and users can use PrintMe Mobile on a trial basis for 45 days. After that, organizations can
buy a one-time license for as few as two printers at $500, or license per printer as needed for
$300 per printer.

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