Mobility has become part and parcel of both our personal and professional lives, and has fundamentally changed the way we work, play and interact, says Heinrich Pretorius, Canon product specialist at DCC.

As smartphones and tablets have become increasingly prevalent and powerful, they are used for a wider variety of everyday tasks, from browsing online and answering emails to compiling documents, spread sheets and presentations. However, while these tasks can easily be completed on mobile devices, printing them can be a challenge, often requiring users to email a file to a computer in order to print it.

Mobile applications (apps) have emerged to solve this issue, allowing users to easily and conveniently print documents, images and more directly from their mobile device. This not only further entrenches mobility, it also helps to improve efficiency and simplify the office environment.

As the power of smartphones and tablets have grown, more and more productivity-enhancing apps have been made available on them, including Microsoft Office tools that enable users to produce fully-fledged files from many of the Office suite of products, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These files can be created on the go, from practically anywhere, which dramatically improves productivity for those who are often out of the office.

However, despite moves toward the paperless office, or at the least reducing the volumes of printed documents in the workplace, the reality is that many items still require a physical hard copy, including images, documents, presentation slides and more. While users can easily create these documents on the move, printing them has been a laborious task, involving the user emailing the file to their computer, and from there opening the file and printing it. This adds unnecessary complication and once more hinders productivity, as users are forced to wait around for emails and use multiple devices to complete what should be a simple task.

As a result of this challenge, mobile apps for printing have emerged and are becoming increasingly common, including those that support AirPrint for Apple (iOS) devices and Mopria Print Services for Android Operating Systems (OS).

Utilising these apps, users are empowered to print directly from their smartphone or tablet. For example, proof of payment of Internet banking transfers completed on a mobile device can easily be printed, as can photographs taken with a smartphone, as well as Word documents and presentations. While they are only compatible with selected printers, the number of these printers available is growing, and now includes most new devices on the market.

Mobile printing apps are available for free from both the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android and are compatible with selected printers. This allows users to easily print a wide variety of different file formats directly from their mobile device. For added convenience, the apps also allow users to set or change printer paper size and orientation, link to a wide variety of applications to print files directly, display and print web pages and more.

Users can print multiple images at once, print Microsoft Office files and PDF files, and even configure detailed printer settings such as double-sided printing, colour mode, pages to print and so on. For corporate environments, secure printing that requires a username and password can also be setup for use with the mobile apps.

Using mobile print apps is easy. Simply download them to a compatible mobile device and then either connect to the same wireless network as the printer, or directly to the printer’s own wireless connection. Printers are automatically detected using the app, and will be remembered once selected so that the next time the user is in range, the printer will show up automatically.

With regards to productivity on the go, mobility has never been simpler or more powerful. Now, with the addition of mobile print apps on compatible printers, users are empowered to complete practically any day-to-day office task from their smartphone or tablet with ease, and can even print these documents directly. Smart printing helps to boost productivity and convenience and brings just one more dimension of mobility into the office environment.