Last year, Google added a native printing features to its Android v4.4 “KitKat” OS. HP has supported native Android printing for a while, but this week, Epson released support for the feature in its printers.
In my tests, printing certain documents and files from a Google Nexus 7 tablet with Android 4.4 to my Epson XP-810 printer worked well, though not without a few issues.
The news here is that Epson printer owners don’t need a dedicated printing app to print from an Android device. Nor do they need to use Google Print. Instead, they can just download the free Epson Print Enabler app, then go to Settings > Printing and ensure that “Epson Print Enabler” is turned on. After that, they’re good to go.
Epson says the feature is supported on more than 60 of its printers, some dating back to 2008. I just purchased my XP-810 a few months ago, so I had no problems with compatibility.
I sent print jobs successfully from Gmail, Chrome and Google Drive over my Wi-Fi network. With each print job, I was able to choose the number of copies to be printed; select the paper size; pick the print orientation (portrait or landscape); choose color or black-and-white; and specify a page range.
A Web page printed from Chrome lacked some of the page graphics — but Web pages can be notoriously difficult to print. Also, I was only able to print part of an image file I opened in the Gallery app, for whatever reason.
The biggest limitation here has nothing to do with Epson. Native Android printing is only supported on KitKat, and many Android users don’t have the latest OS version yet. It’s a welcome addition nonetheless, and with Epson printers, it works well the majority of the time.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.