Apple’s own AirPrint printing is deeply integrated into iPhones and iPads. The “Print” options you see throughout the operating system will only print to AirPrint-enabled printers. You can still print to a Google Cloud Print-enabled printer, but it’ll take a little extra effort.
Many modern wireless printers support both AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, so they may just work if you’re near them. But Google Cloud Print allows you to hook up older printers and print over the Internet, too, which Apple’s AirPrint doesn’t offer.
Print to Google Cloud Print From Google’s Own Apps
Google’s own apps generally have Google Cloud Print built-in. For example, let’s say you’re viewing a web page in the Chrome app, reading an email in the Gmail app, or viewing a Google Drive document in the Docs, Sheets, or Slides apps. You can open the app’s menu and select a “Print” option to print a document. This option is located in different places in different apps. For example, in Google Chrome, you’ll need to open the menu, tap the “Share” button that looks like a square with an arrow coming up out of it, and then tap the “Print” action on the second row of icons. In Google’s own apps, you’ll get the option to print to Google Cloud Print instead of Apple’s AirPrint, if you prefer.
Google Cloud Print will offer printers associated with your Google account, so be sure you’re signed into the app with the same Google account you associated the printers with in Google Cloud Print. If you’re using a different Google account, you can visit the Google Cloud Print website and share the printers with another Google account.
Print From Any App with PrintCentral Pro
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t provide an official Google Cloud Print application for iOS. It only builds Google Cloud Print into its own apps. If you want to print to a Google Cloud Print-enabled printer from another app–or print a type of document none of Google’s apps support–you’ll need a third-party printing app.
Google officially recommends the PrintCentral Pro app for printing on iOS. Two versions are available: one for iPhone, iPod Touch, and Apple Watch and one for iPad. The iPhone version costs $5 and the iPad version costs $8.
While there are other printing apps that claim to support Google Cloud Print, they’re also paid applications and Google hasn’t officially recommended them. That’s why we recommend PrintCentral Pro.
This app fills in the missing pieces with Google Cloud Print–and other types of printers–on iOS. Once you’ve installed it, you can open the app and see a list of nearby printers. PrintCentral Pro supports a variety of other printers, including most Wi-Fi printers. Tap the “+” button on the screen listing available printers, select “Google Cloud Printing,” and sign in with your Google account to gain access to any Google Cloud Print printers you have.
While you can open the PrintCentral Pro app and load web pages, images, and other documents for printing, iOS’s Share feature can help a lot. This allows you to “Share” documents from practically any app to PrintCentral Pro, which can then print them on a Google Cloud Print-enabled printer.
To do this, open an app you want to print from and open the document you want to print. Tap the “Share” button, which looks like a square with an arrow pointing upwards. Tap the “More” button at the right side of the bottom row of icons when you see the share sheet and enable the “PCL Pro” action. You’ll then see a “PCL Pro” icon in the second row of icons. Tap this icon to send a copy of the current document to the PrintCentral Pro application. You’ll get the normal interface, which allows you to print it to any available printer–including Google Cloud Print printers.
While you’ll get the most integrated printing experience with an AirPrint printer, the Share extensions added in iOS 8 make PrintCentral Pro–and Google Cloud Print–much more convenient to use. This app can essentially extend any application on iOS with support for printing to a Google Cloud Print or other type of printer, as long as that app contains a Share button.
If you just need to print a web page, email, or document, you can also use Google’s own apps to print for free.
Image Credit: Stiftelsen on Flickr