AirPrint: very useful, but over-simplified?

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AirPrint: very useful, but over-simplified?

If you have an iPad, this is a very handy trick says Daniel James.

There can be little doubt that Apple's AirPrint technology greatly simplified the task of printing from iPhones and iPads by doing away with the need to install vendor-specific printing apps or model-specific printer drivers, not that the latter was ever an option with iOS.

An ever-growing range of networked printers from well-known vendors supports AirPrint. These include SOHO to departmental models offered by Brother, Canon, Epson, Fuji Xerox, HP, Lexmark, Oki Data, Samsung and others.

With AirPrint, you just tap Share, Print, and then Print, and the page emerges. There is an extra step if you're not using the same printer as you did last time, but that's just a couple of additional taps, as AirPrint automatically detects the available printers.

The downside is that it provides practically no control over the printer's capabilities. You can select the number of copies to print, and whether or not to print double sided, but that's it.

There's no way of asking for output in black and white rather than colour, or of selecting draft mode, both of which can provide useful cost savings by reducing the amount of ink or toner used. It might not save much per page, but if you do a lot of printing.

Nor is there any provision for previewing the output or restricting the output to a particular page range. That would be especially useful when printing web-based receipts, as very often all the information you need is near the top of the web page and so there's an opportunity to save paper as well as ink or toner by only printing the first physical page.

So, Apple, how about putting at least another couple of settings into the AirPrint menu?

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