Full AirPrint Functionality in iOS 4.2 Up in the Air
Tomorrow's expected release of iOS 4.2, the upgrade to Apple's mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads, is likely to be missing one of the most highly anticipated features, full-scale AirPrint support, which would allow the mobile devices to wirelessly publish on printers in Mac and Windows PC networks. AirPrint automatically finds printers on local networks and can print text, photos and graphics to them wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need to install drivers or download software. What won't be missing is controversy over the incident, as Apple has been touting the AirPrint feature since showing a preview of iOS 4.2 in September, but has yet to disclose any details on the status of the wireless printing tool. Speculation abounds over a delay of AirPrint in iOS 4.2 after the absence of AirPrint was noted in yesterday's update to Snow Leopard. Mac OS X 10.6.5 became available yesterday -- but AirPrint, which would have allowed iPads and iPhones to use printers from shared Macs, was not included in the upgrade. AirPrint is also slated to enable Apple's devices to print from shared Windows PCs.
Meanwhile, there are rumors indicating that at least a light version of AirPrint will be included in iOS 4.2, which would provide users with the ability to publish only on printers with built-in support for AirPrint. Currently, there are only a few printers available with embedded AirPrint support. HP's ePrint line is the first to support printing direct from iOS devices, and includes the HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One printer and a handful of other models. But a crippled AirPrint in iOS 4.2 means most people will not be able to print from their iPads on printers they already own. To do that, they'll have to continue to use third-party iPad printing apps and tools, as we outlined in the story "Review: Four Apps for Printing with the iPad."
This is not the first incident that has Apple fans confused. The company never issued any detailed information on the delay of the coveted white iPhone 4, which was suppose to be available in time for the holidays, after a stalled launch over the summer. Apple did not return calls seeking comment on AirPrint or the white iPhone 4.