When Samsung Electronics first began developing mobile printing solutions in 2009, it aimed to make printing simpler and more convenient from mobile devices. The concept was that people who use smartphones and tablet PCs should be able to easily print a variety of content—whether email, screen shots or photos—directly from their mobile devices.
Stage1: Printing via mobile phone.
The first stage in achieving this vision began with the Samsung GALAXY series. The Printing Solutions team equipped ‘print’ buttons on the GALAXY Tab (2010 model), GALAXY SII, SIII, S4, Note and NoteII which, when pressed, automatically searched for any neighboring Samsung printers. Users had control over a variety of options such as the desired number of copies, the paper and image size. Anything from a compatible device could be effortlessly printed: photos, emails, screen shots from the web or Samsung applications such as S-memo and S-note.
Samsung had delivered on their vision for mobile printing, but there was still more to do as this first version was only compatible with GALAXY devices. Although complicated steps such as installing Samsung-exclusive drivers or applications had been eliminated, users still had to manually search for the printer’s address.
“Consumer surveys conducted by Samsung in 2012 showed our printers had the highest convenience scores in mobile printing compared to our competitors, suggesting our focus on this area was resonating well with our customers.” (Associate Hyelang Cho, Printing Solutions Business Sales & Marketing Team, Samsung Electronics)
Stage2: Expanded printing capabilities through Samsung Mobile Print App.
The Printing Solutions team wanted to bring mobile printing to a much broader audience, beyond GALAXY devices alone. The solution was the creation of the Samsung Mobile Print App, available on both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store, bringing the promise of ubiquitous mobile printing closer to reality.
With the app, people could also print more easily from their mobile device than before including content from social networks including Facebook and Twitter, Google Drive documents, PDFs, and MS Office files.
Stage3: Printing made easy, ‘Tap & Print’.
When the Samsung Mobile Print App first launched, Samsung heard a number of concerns from the community such as a perceived difficulty in finding the app on the Google Play Store and how there were some initial teething problems when some tried to install the app.
“We were worried at first. However, after conducting repeated app installation and usability tests with our overseas employees, our confidence in our methodology increased. IT environments are something that we are obviously familiar with, but we recognize this isn’t always the case for general users. Making printing easy without any problem, under any circumstance – that was what Samsung’s mobile printing had to aspire to, and something we knew we could achieve. ” (Director Chiwan Bae, Printing Solutions Business Sales & Marketing Team, Samsung Electronics)
To truly deliver the concept of intuitive printing, the Printing Solutions team continued to seek new avenues to improve the printing experience. Using a combination of Near Field Communication (NFC) and Wi-Fi Direct Technology, the team envisaged a new type of solution that would benefit their customers. These two types of technology offer different things. NFC technology allows any device within a 4cm radius to be connected to another device simply by tapping them together. Wi-Fi Direct Technology enables the quick exchange of data between connected devices. These technologies had already been implemented in the GALAXY S series, but now they were to be combined for use between printers and smartphones.
The idea was that users could tap their mobile devices to the printer to print their content with no specific wireless set-up. And for those without the Mobile Print App, they would be prompted to download the app from either the Google Play Store or App Store if they tried to print via NFC. This thinking formed the basis for the world’s first NFC-supported color laser printer and multifunction printers, the Samsung C410W Series.
“We decided to make tap to print work for most smartphones on Android 4.0 or higher. That was a big challenge for us as it required compatibility with any Android mobile device from anywhere in the world. We conducted hundreds of thousands of tests to ensure that our customers did not have to worry about any complicated procedures when printing via NFC.” (Associate Wuseok Jang, Printing Solutions Business R&D Team, Samsung Electronics)
With the release of these printers, Samsung has successfully made mobile printing simple, intuitive and accessible as well as saving users valuable time. Samsung’s NFC printers are launching at the end of June in Korean, and in early July for the U.S. and European market.
The only Industry-certified Wi-FI Direct Technology; to expand into enterprise products
NFC enabled printers have received attention from a number of sectors, including enterprise, due to their added security benefits. In fact, Samsung plans to expand its SOHO (Small Office and Home Office) products with NFC technology for enterprise customers. For companies that need to print various types of content securely, these printers are able to verify users by a simple tap and ensure that authorized personnel are printing.
“For the first time among printer manufacturers, Samsung Electronics has achieved official certification for Wi-Fi Direct Technology. There have been emerging technologies in mobile printing before; however, not many of those technologies went through the certification process. Leveraging Samsung’s technology leadership, we plan to expand Wi-Fi Direct into enterprise products.” (PrincipalEngineerDongchaePark, Printing Solutions Business R&D Team, Samsung Electronics)
As smart devices continue to play an increasingly integral part in our lives, there is a clear need for solutions that save time and improve the user experience. Efforts such as the Samsung Mobile Print App and NFC printing are such examples that prove how innovative technology solutions can make our lives easier.