Hands on with KitKat’s built-in printer support (video)

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Ever since the advent of the modern personal computer, the promise of a “paperless” office has been omnipresent. To-date, that promise hasn’t been fully realized.

Even with tablets, which are excellent reading devices, there are still times when we need to get the information from our screens and put it on to paper. Until recently, that hasn’t been very easy.

Let’s go hands-on with printing support, one of the lesser known features that comes built-in to Android 4.4 KitKat.

Android Printer Support

What we’re showing you here should work on any device running Android 4.4 and up. In this demo we’ll use our Nexus 5 (running the stock ROM) to show off the printing infrastructure that Google built in to the latest version of its mobile operating system.

android-print-dialogAndroid’s new printing infrastructure lets you use any compatible plugin to send a document wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet to a printer. Google has its own Cloud Print service, but that’s not what we’re showing off here today. For this demonstration we’ll use the HP Print Service Plugin, which is available free in the Play Store, and an HP PhotoSmart 7510.

To get started, open up your settings, scroll down to the System section, and tap on Printing. From that screen you’ll see the Print Services that are available to you, in our case, Cloud Print (which we turned off) and HP Print Service Plugin. Tap on the latter of the two, make sure it’s turned on, and search for local printers. If none are found, or if searching takes a long time, make sure your printer is on and not in its “sleep” mode. In our experience, this process takes about five seconds. If your configuration is different, you may need to add the printer manually, which the plugin allows you to do.

One of the reasons we opted to show off HP’s print service plugin was because of the Settings available through it. You can select to use the ePCL print protocol, enable 2-sided printing if you have a duplexer, and whether or not to show low-ink notifications.

Although we only showed printing a very simple text document in this video, the same process works for presentations, images, PDFs, spreadsheets, and even web pages. Unlike previous versions of Android, the new printing infrastructure in KitKat lets you print right from the apps where you’re viewing whatever it is you want to print.

Printing from your Android-powered smartphone or tablet is easy and convenient, once you know how.

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.