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EFI adds iOS AirPrint support to a quarter million Fiery corporate printers

EFI has added support for Apple's AirPrint feature to its Fiery corporate print server, enabling iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to discover nearby devices and print wirelessly.

The Foster City, California company now offers PrintMe Connect as a free download for Fiery users. The feature allows iOS 4.2 or later devices to print documents to any printers or multifunction devices running EFI's Fiery System8/8e print server and supporting Internet Printing Protocol.

Rather than being a cloud printing service, as Google has announced for future versions of Android, Apple's AirPrint is a local, mobile print protocol that uses Bonjour to discover nearby printers. It then sends jobs directly to the printer using a specialized page format that simplifies printing without requiring mobile print drivers or remote print servers (at least for printers that support the new protocol).

Only a few HP printers are officially supported by AirPrint, but the Fiery print server expands this feature to support any printer the server solution can work with, including large format, high end, and multifunction devices. The free EFI update brings enterprise printing support for more than 250,000 printers in corporate fleets, without requiring the purchase of new printers or the installation of firmware updates on the printers themselves.

Apple initially planned to roll out AirPrint support for all printers shared by Macs or Windows PCs, but pulled the feature before release, for reasons rumored to be related to disputed intellectual property claims. It's easy to add the functionally back however.

HP mentioned wireless printing support in its webOS event today, but did not elaborate, making it unclear if its print strategy for the new TouchPad tablet and Palm webOS smartphones is based upon the same underlying technology as Apple's AirPrint, or whether it is limited to HP's email-based ePrint cloud service.