Lexmark unveils mobile printing app

Lexmark International unveiled an app Monday that allows users to print from their Android-powered tablet computers and phones.

The Lexington-based printer maker will initially offer the application for download with the upcoming Cisco Cius tablet aimed at business users.

The application allows users to send documents to printers by other manufacturers, not just Lexmark, said Kay Kienast, vice president of worldwide marketing for the company.

The app will allow the printing of common formats such as PDFs, and .jpg and .tif photographs. Microsoft Office documents will not be supported, although they can be converted to PDFs.

The app was designed by Lexmark researchers to emulate printing on a PC. Users begin the process by using their Android sharing menu, as they would to transmit photos or other data on the devices.

"You then see the Lexmark Mobile Print option, choose it and it moves forward in many ways like it does with a PC," said Randy Sparks, Lexmark's director of worldwide solutions marketing.

The company has offered mobile printing processes since 2008, because its business customers wanted ways to print from their BlackBerry devices. This app takes the process a step further, making it easier to identify the printers to be used.

Users can enter the name of the printer, do a network search to find it, or scan a QR code located on the printer to let the phone know where to print, Sparks said.

Kienast said Lexmark chose to go with Cisco for the launch of the app because of the latter's strength with business customers.

The app doesn't require additional support, such as servers, from businesses' technology departments, a factor that should make it more appealing.

"Enterprises like to set a standard," Sparks said. "They don't like to roll out the next new app every month, ... so that's really what we've tried to do."

Kienast declined to say how much the app will cost in Cisco's marketplace or how much of a share Lexmark will receive.

She said the app also will work on other mobile operating systems, including Apple's, but she declined to discuss how quickly Lexmark might try to roll it out to the iPad or Android tablets and phones from other manufacturers.

"We view this as a large upcoming space," she said.

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