Saying, “Our goal is to build a printing experience that enables any app (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer anywhere in the world,” Google has published a new set of documents that outline an exciting new (and as yet unavailable) service: Google Cloud Print.

overview Google to offer cloud printing for Chrome OS, web apps   predicts cloud aware printers

Cloud Print will seemingly be how all printing from Chrome OS will be handled. As all apps on Chrome OS are actually web apps, Google says, “we want to make sure printing from web apps is as natural as printing from traditional native apps is today.” Cloud Print will not only work with web apps, however – Google says that it will also work with both mobile and desktop apps as well. All of these print jobs will be handled through APIs, according to the documentation. All printing from Chrome OS will be done through Cloud Print.

As far as printers go, Google breaks down printers into a) legacy printers – i.e. every printer in the world today and b) cloud-aware printers, which don’t exist yet, but which Google says:

…this model, the printer has no need for a PC connection of any kind or for a print driver. The printer is simply registered with one or more cloud print services and awaits print jobs. Cloud-aware printers don’t exist yet, but one of our main goals in publishing this information at an early stage is to begin engaging industry leaders and the community in developing cloud-aware printers and the necessary open protocols for these printers to communicate with cloud print services. We believe cloud printing has tremendous benefits for end users and for the industry and is essential, given the rapid shift toward cloud-based applications and data storage. We also believe that the only way that the benefits of cloud printing can be realized is if the protocols are open, freely implementable, and, when possible, based on existing industry standards. We expect there to be multiple cloud print services, and users should have a choice in which services they use and which printers they can connect to a service. Stay tuned for more details. We are confident that cloud-aware printers will soon be a reality.

Wow, what a prediction.

So here’s how Google explains the actual service (our emphasis in bold):

Google Cloud Print is a web service offered by Google. We expect other entities to provide their own cloud print services as well. Users associate printers with their Google Account via the service. Printers are treated in much the same way as documents are in Google Docs. Therefore, it is very easy to share printers with your coworkers, friends, and family anywhere in the world. No need for complex network setups to make print sharing work! In addition to associating printers with a user’s Google Account, the capabilities of each particular printer model are stored so they can be shown to the user to select appropriate options when submitting a print job. Once the service receives a print job, it sends it to the printer. It also receives regular updates on the status of the print job which it makes available to the app.

So there you have it – Google is taking paper into the cloud, and fully expects numerous services and printers that will facilitate that. How far away are we from cloud-aware printers? When you think about it, someone must be working on these right now – HP perhaps? Google says that it is offering these documents in order to generate discussion and get the ecosystem for Cloud Print going, and we have to say that the sooner this happens, the better. Very cool stuff.