iOS 4.2.1 Airprint Frustration

Strangely enough I didn’t pay much attention to the release of iOS 4.2.1 even though I have a WiFi iPad, an iPhone 4, my old iPhone 3G and an Apple TV (2nd gen). Sure I was aware of the basics like improved speed on the iPhone 3G (I’ve yet to notice it), folders on the iPad, playing video from the iPad on your Apple TV, ‘multitasking’ and of course AirPrint.

So I decided to check out AirPrint and had a quick look at the Apple web site…

“AirPrint makes it simple to print email, photos, web pages, and documents right from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. A few taps is all it takes to go from viewing it onscreen to holding a printed copy. There‚Äôs no software to download, no drivers to install, and no cables to connect.”

Well that looks straightforward enough. I guess so long as my printer is switched on and visible on the network (it’s shared by my Mac Pro) then I’ll be good to go. I fired up my iPad, loaded Pages, selected Print and hey presto…. ‘No Printers Found’. What do you mean no printers found? I can see it. The little green light is on. In my System Preferences on the Mac it definitely says it’s shared. What’s going on? Time to Google the answer and discover the truth behind Apple’s rather over-simplified statement. That’s right, seems there’s a key phrase missing from Apple’s web page, so I have ‘amended’ the AirPrint feature point on Apple’s iOS web page for you. Hope it’s a little clearer now…

AirPrint Clarified

There, that's better...

Obviously my Canon ip4000 doesn’t qualify, and given that it prints great photos, letters, etc., I have no intention of replacing it. Maybe there are more AirPrint-enabled printers on the way. Perhaps Apple will push an update in the future that ‘enables’ a greater range of existing printers to be used, who knows. What I do know is that their glib statement about just ‘click & go’ is somewhat misleading. Judging by the large number of queries from people who have been asking why AirPrint doesn’t work for them, it seems like a lot of people were caught out by this. Now I’m an IT person of sorts and I should know better (and do my research more thoroughly), but you can’t expect the average Joe to read that statement and then go off hunting for clarification – they just want to print.

Rumour has it that broader printer support was going to be included but that it got pulled at the last minute. Still, if Apple is able to co-ordinate the release of iOS 4.2.1 worldwide, then you’d think they could adjust a little bit of text in a web page just to make things clear? Well they do… IF you go to the iPad page, click on the AirPrint link, then scroll to the bottom of the page. That’s marketing at it’s best – big up the features in your headline and then hide the gotchas away – behind a door marked ‘Beware of the tiger’!

PS – I am aware that there is a ‘fix’ for this problem that involves downloading three files to your Mac and overwriting a couple of system files, but I’ll wait for the official fix – if it happens.