For many a Chrome OS user, Google Cloud Print has been a reluctant companion for nearly ten years as a “simple” solution for wireless printing. As any Chromie that has used Google Cloud Print can tell you, it wasn’t a great solution but it was the only one we had for many years. Thankfully, makers like HP had the good sense to make a Chrome plugin that makes connecting to their printers near-painless. It even allows for USB printing which was once unheard of on a Chromebook.
The biggest problem with Google Cloud Print for users of any OS was the absolutely nightmare-ish and convoluted setup process that seemed to differ for just about every compatible printer on the market. Countless forum posts over the years are proof positive that Google Cloud Print deserves the “Beta” label it still carries after almost a decade. Anyway, we could go on and on about this subject but the fact is, it will be irrelevant before too long.
As of December 21, 2020, Google will be sunsetting the Cloud Print platform when it will be shuffled off to the ever-expanding graveyard of products that once were. (R.I.P. Allo) The end of next year may seem a good distance away but it is a much-needed buffer for enterprises and other institutions that use GCP on a massive scale to get a suitable replacement set up. To that end, Google has pointed out that a number of new printing features have been added to Chrome OS over the past year and more are coming before the end of 2019.
- Admin console interface to manage thousands of CUPS-based printers for users, devices, and managed guests (the legacy 20-printer cap has been removed) by organizational unit
- Admin console policy to manage user printing defaults for 2-sided (duplex) and color
- Support for advanced printing attributes (stapling, paper trays, pin printing)
- Admin console policy to include user account and filename in IPP header of print job over a secure IPPS connection, which enables third-party printing features such as secure printing and print-usage tracking
- Admin console policy to manage PIN code printing, allowing users to enter pin code when sending the print job, and release the print job for printing when they enter the pin code into the printer keypad
Google’s developers are continuing work to make printing less painful with a roadmap for even more features to arrive before Cloud Print rides off into the sunset.
- Support for external CUPS print servers, including authentication
- Policy to configure connections to external CUPS print servers
- APIs for third-parties to access print job metadata, submit print jobs and printer management capabilities
I can say that through my daily walks through the Chromium repository, there is a lot of work being done on the printing front. Since Chrome OS doesn’t install drivers on the user-end like other operating systems, it will take continual updating of the source code for local network printers to simply be recognized by a device but it’s getting there. In the meantime, I recommend future-proofing your home devices by just purchasing an HP printer and saving yourself any headaches. You can find a list of compatible HP printers on their support page here.