Why no printer drivers for Android?


Last Updated: 2012-10-24 22:27:52
  1. marka1211

    marka1211 New Member

    In my family, we have a few Android smartphones, plus an Acer A500 tablet. They can connect to my home network using wifi, samba, and ssh, just like the way I can with my laptop, for file sharing. So, why is it that there are no printer drivers for Android devices, that allow me to print to a shared printer attached to another computer? The only printer solutions I have seen for Android involve printing only to special wifi-enabled or bluetooth printers, or printing over the Internet, as with Google Cloud Printing. Is it just a lack of memory? CPU power? Apathy? On my Linux system, the components of CUPS don't seem to take up much storage, and it doesn't seem that it should take a lot of CPU horsepower to process print jobs. Also, I'm not keen on the idea of opening my home network to the Internet, just so I can print a web page every now and then. Will Android devices ever be able to just print?

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  2. T.M.M.L

    T.M.M.L Well-Known Member

    Greetings marka,

    I think you have to look at the overall lack of memory and power associated with cells. Drivers can take up a bit of space, and with there being no specific "Android printer" available, you come to a quandary, whose driver do we supply? HP, Lexmark, Epson...

    Phones are often being called "miniature computers", and while there may be some truth to the statement, they have a long way to go.
    scary alien likes this.
  3. Slym

    Slym New Member

    Hi,
    just bought Iconia A501 tablet and think that printing directly from tablet would be great option. I don't have wireless printer, only epson p50, so Epson iPrint application is not the solution. Or maybe it is? May I use it somehow if I connect my PC to the printer, share printer as a network printer and then wirelessly send docs to PC to print?
  4. sohguanh

    sohguanh Well-Known Member

    I don't know about your country but recently in mine, a lot of new printers are coming out with the ability to print stuff that are from your smart-phones wirelessly. Seem to be a new trend that capitalize on smart-phones mania nowadays.
    scary alien and mikedt like this.
  5. Slym

    Slym New Member

    Acer Iconia has USB port. so, I'd like to use it to print to "any" printer anywhere, not just the new ones.
  6. hkmk23

    hkmk23 Well-Known Member

    At the end of the day android is not a true operating system, it is marketing device from Google (a website, not a hardware manufacturer) which works fine on phones and low specification handheld devices. You do not see desktop makers rushing out "android" pcs do you? A great shame, a missed opportunity.
  7. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Well-Known Member

    You would need a driver. It is probably possible, but not feasible. Palm had an app called Printboy which would use IR (we had an HP printer with IR) There was another that worked with bluetooth.

    If you had a program that turned anything you wanted to print into a digital image like a scanner does, then most printers could be wirelessly set to print a jpg/bmp from anywhere. It's when you want specific fonts, layout, things get funky.

    There is an app to print wirelessly to certain printers, but I think it's over a network. I saw ads for printing like that around last Xmas.
    scary alien likes this.
  8. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    That's right, it was primarily designed as a lightweight mobile or embedded OS. For this it does extremely well.

    I'm sure that's what Google intended Android to be used for. It's for mobile and low-powered applications. NOT to replace full-blown, heavy desktop OSs, like MS Windows, Ubuntu Linux or Mac OS X.

    FYI Google also does Chrome OS, intended for laptops with cloud computing using Google's online services, like Docs. Chrome OS does support printing via their Cloud Print service...
    http://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1069693
    ...but you have to have a "Cloud Print" ready printer.

    BTW Android supports "Cloud Print" as well, with the appropriate apps.

    To be frank, you don't really see many desktop and laptop makers rushing out to do Ubuntu Linux computers either. They do Windows (apart from Apple), and that's pretty much it.

    Some Chinese makers do small Android laptops and netbooks, but these are really just mobile tablets with keyboards fitted.

    If you're expecting to be able to plug your Lexmark or whatever directly into your cellphone, that's probably not going to happen. But wireless and cloud printing solutions do exist.
    scary alien likes this.
  9. euph_22

    euph_22 Well-Known Member

    So Android isn't "the collection of software that directs a computer's operations, controlling and scheduling the execution of other programs, and managing storage, input/output, and communication resources."? How exactly does Android fail this is any way (yes, the smart phone IS in fact a computer [a general purpose device that carries out a finite set of arthimatic and logical operations]). What I think you mean to say is that Android doesn't scale across the entire class of computers from small portable/embedded systems to home PC's. This is quite true, and could be said about any OS (with the exception of a few strains of linux that aren't easy to deploy).

    And of course Android isn't made by a hardware company. Because it's SOFTWARE. Microsoft isn't a hardware company either (ignore their myriad failed attempts at it). Apple is, but they really are exceptions to the rule. Oh, and FYI unless I'm mistaken iOS doesn't have printer drivers either (but they have similar remote/cloud printing services).

    Now as far as why there aren't printer drivers for Android. There are many reasons. 1) very few android devices can host USB devices. If you can't host the device, the having a driver available won't do you any good.
    2) with the various remote/cloud printing services, you don't need drivers in a number of situations
    3) printing is most important when you are creating content (writing papers and whatnot). Since very few mobile devices are used that way, there is less need for printers.
    4) the printer manufacturers would have next to no incentive to develop android drivers, since the population of people wanting to print from a specific phone to a specific printer will be miniscule. Even if 20% of the android owning population wanted to print from their phone, how many of them will be using the Droid Razr with the stock .212 update, printing from a Lexmark e342z8 ink jet All-in-one?
    remember that the printer companies develop drivers, not the computer/software companies. They certainly collabarate, but the buck stops with them. Developing printer drivers for a specific printer will be quite costly, will only help a handful of people, and will not increase sales. In short there is no reason for lexmark, epson, cannon, etc to invest money into Android drivers.

    Oh, and it's bad form to dredge up threads that have been dormant of almost a year.
    mikedt likes this.
  10. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor Guide


    1. Android is a true operating system. It was just designed for phones not computers. DOH. You just don't understand what you are saying. :D An operating system does not constitute the ability to install drivers or what not. An operating system is a software, not hardware. Hello, Microsoft is a software company, not hardware.

    2. There are no Android drivers because drivers in the phone for hardware peripherals need to be embedded in the firmware, as far as I know. Who the F wants to flash their phone or tablet just to use a printer? Better to just email it to the printer or use cloud print
  11. hkmk23

    hkmk23 Well-Known Member

    Two replies to the "senior" members above.
    1/. as a new member I am unlikely to realise what are "dormant" threads - I am certainly not going to search every nook and cranny of the forum.
    2/. Who the "F" wants to flash.... is an unnecessary and uncalled for expletive in this context.

    I was responding to a previous query, and although some people may eat sleep and breathe their android devices to make them the answer to the universe, you cannot get away from the fact that they are glorified phones.

    It is a major deficiency that you cannot print from them easily and not everyone wishes to share their information in "clouds" or other out of house solutions.

    Two disappointing responses to what was a valid comment and discussion.
  12. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    To be frank, you are rather missing the point is that Android is primarily designed as a mobile OS and NOT a heavyweight desktop OS, like MS Windows, Ubuntu or Mac OS X.

    The simple fact is, that most Android devices like cellphones have no way of even connecting a printer directly to them. Same thing for just about all mobile devices, except for obviously PC laptops and Apple Macbooks.

    FYI Android does support wireless printing with the appropriate apps, without having to use the cloud or any other "out of house solutions". Obviously any printer you use MUST support wireless printing, either wifi or Bluetooth.

    Challenge: :) Can you name any mobile OS where you can directly plug any printer into it and expect it to work? "mobile OS" being something like Android(phone and tablet), iOS(iPhone and iPad), Symbian, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, WinCE, PalmOS.

    I think that you are missing the point that Android phones and tablets are primarily designed to be used as mobile devices, for when out and about.

    Myself, If I need to get printing done locally, I just plug a printer into my Windows 7 laptop. Or if I need high quality or bulk, just go to the local printing store around the corner, with a USB stick or Android phone.
  13. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor Guide

    No there is no such defficiency on the device itself. Newer printers have direct wireless communications. Samsung phones can directly connect to Samsung printers with no intervening cloud communications through the Samsung Allshare app and directly print. Its simply lack of legacy support, which is not a big deal considering that HP, Epson, and Canon already have direct communications applications between their newer printers and phones.

    For the record "Who the F" is an expression. Perfectly valid IMO, signifying hyperbole.
  14. euph_22

    euph_22 Well-Known Member

    I like how you single out my passing reference to the fact that you responded to a thread that has been stale for a year (notice the time stamp on the last post before your's. It's really not difficult to check). In a single sentence pointing that out. After a several paragraph response to the "issue" you raised, which you seem to ignore.
    Whether you're intending to do it or not, you're trolling.
  15. hkmk23

    hkmk23 Well-Known Member

    Re your challenge....:)

    my ipad2 will print to any printer using Netgear Genie to fool the ipad that the printer you select is an airprinter.....of course this is over my internal wifi.
    No, I have not tried to plug in either the ipad, iphone or Tab directly and I doubt that it is possible anyway, but my solution above does not require the purchase of a special printer of any make but you do need a PC and a local wifi network. and, yes, I have tried to do it with the Tab but it will not work.
  16. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    PrinterShare
  17. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor Guide

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  18. euph_22

    euph_22 Well-Known Member

    You can do that on Android with Cloud Print (and several other services/apps). And it's not what YOU were talking about. You were talking about Android hosting a printer.
  19. athegn

    athegn Well-Known Member

    scary alien likes this.
  20. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary Moderator

    Just a reminder for all members to play nice :)) :p) and post respectfully.

    Attack the issues folks, not each other, okay?

    Thanks! :)
    mikedt and Prinny like this.
  21. SIII groupie

    SIII groupie Well-Known Member

    This is a real issue. I think op has a valid point. Tell me to jump thru six hoops and scratch myself is not tje simple answer I or op wants.

    Not trying to fuel what is already "hot thread".

    It is fine if there is currently not the option availabe. But to defend as if some fundemental reason is why? Stay in your cave? And no thanks for the wheel also.
  22. euph_22

    euph_22 Well-Known Member

    The question the OP posted over a year ago?

    Look, setting up cloud print to work on my phone was easier than most of the experiences I've had installing printers on computers.
  23. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    Perhaps the OP had a valid point a year ago. This is an old thread that got necrobumped. It seems things have changed quite a lot on the Android printing front since then.

    Seems to me now, to get an Android device printing is as easy as installing an app. Provided you already have a networked printer and wifi.
  24. euph_22

    euph_22 Well-Known Member


    Even the networked printer and wifi aren't that necessary. Hosting a printer on your computer for Android printing is really pretty easy.
    scary alien and mikedt like this.
  25. Roadie1015

    Roadie1015 Well-Known Member

    I've been able to print from my Droid 2 to my Epson wifi printer for years. All I had to do was download the app.
    scary alien likes this.

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