iOS 4.2 May Drop AirPrint Printer Sharing

Apple may be planning on scaling back AirPrint by dropping support for printers shared via a Mac or Windows PC when iOS 4.2 is released. The feature will let iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users print documents to compatible printers on local networks, and Apple also promised users could share printers connected to their computer with iOS devices, too.

According to MacStories, developers have been reporting that references to shared printer support in iOS 4.2 have been disappearing from Apple’s Developer Center Web site. Apparently, only some HP networked printers are listed now as AirPrint compatible.

A quick check of Apple’s iOS 4.2 Web page now fails to mention shared printer support, too.

MIA: AirPrint printer sharing

Apple introduced AirPrint in September as one of the features that would be included in iOS 4.2. At the time, the company said networked printers that support the AirPrint protocol, HP ePrint-enabled printers, and printers shared from a Mac or PC would be supported.

Apparently at least one iOS developer program member contacted Apple and was told AirPrint printer sharing support had been dropped. “Support for AirPrint on Windows and Mac has been cancelled,” the developer was told. “We will be in contact with you if another opportunity arises in the future.”

Printer sharing support for AirPrint requires Mac OS X 10.6.5, which hasn’t been released yet. Developers testing pre-release versions of the Mac OS update, however, have been reporting that printer sharing support appears to still function.

Apple could be planning on dropping the feature before the final versions of iOS 4.2 and Mac OS X 10.6.5 ship some time this month. If so, the decision is likely due to incompatibility and stability issues, according to unnamed developers.

Assuming Apple actually is pulling shared printer support from AirPrint, many iPad users will likely be disappointed since printer sharing ensured they would have at least one compatible output device. Apple hasn’t officially confirmed AirPrint is being scaled back, so for now we’ll have to wait to see what features are available when iOS 4.2 officially ships in the coming days.