AirPrint Shared Printer Support May Be Dead

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Apple iOS 4.2 is scheduled to hit iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices this month, but it may not be as easy to print from your iOS device as it was supposed to be. Apple in September announced AirPrint, a native iOS 4.2 printing feature, and said you would be able to send a print job from your iOS device to a Mac or Windows PC on the same Wi-Fi network. The computer would then process the print job and forward it to the printer. In September, an Apple representative told PC World there would be "no difference between the way AirPrint would work on a printer that supports Apple's new AirPrint printing architecture (like ePrint printers from HP) or one that is connected to a Mac or a PC."

But that may not be the case, as some iOS developers are now saying that Apple has removed any mention of printing through your PC from the company's iOS developer documentation, according to Macstories.

Apple's public Web pages, such as this preview page for iOS 4.2 on the iPad, also lack any mention of AirPrint's previously announced ability to print via your Mac or PC.

If the rumors are true, then at launch AirPrint would only work with select Hewlett-Packard printers that support printing directly from iOS 4.2 devices. The HP models supporting AirPrint at launch include Photosmart, Officejet, Officejet Pro and LaserJet Pro series ePrint enabled printers. AirPrint on iOS 4.2 is only compatible with the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as third (late 2009) and fourth (late 2010) generation iPod Touch devices.

AirPrint Canceled or Just Held Back?

It's not clear if Apple experienced problems with the software or is just holding back the feature prior to launch. But one developer, writing on Apple's developer forums, says Apple told him the shared networking feature for AirPrint has been nixed. "Support for AirPrint on Windows and Mac has been canceled. We will be in contact with you if another opportunity arises in the future," the purported message from Apple said.

If Apple has removed the shared printing feature from AirPrint in iOS 4.2, it's unfortunate for everyone but a select group of HP printer owners. But there are alternatives if you feel you absolutely need to print from your iPad or iPhone. Eurosmartz makes an $8.99 iPhone and iPad app called Print & Share that lets you print to any networked printer running Eurosmartz's free printer server software.

Mac users can also try another app called Print Magic that lets you print via OS X's printer sharing feature. Print Magic is currently on sale for $2.99 in the iTunes Store.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter.

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