Printing is one subject that has gone largely undiscussed in the torrent of words unleashed by the iPad announcement. But it is an important issue that Apple should address before the iPad ships.
You don’t expect a phone to print, so no one is bothered by the iPhone’s inability to do so. But people do print from computers, even netbooks, all the time. People print Web pages, email messages, and documents of all sorts. The extreme portability and e-reader-like form factor of the the iPad may reduce the urge to produce a dead tree image, but it isn’t going to eliminate it. And the fact that Apple is making productivity apps such as Pages and Numbers available for the iPad increases the mystery of why printing capability was (apparently) left out of the list of features.
Fortunately, Apple has a dead simple way to fix this. Bonjour is an extremely easy way to locate and connect to a printer (or an iTunes library; Apple also uses Bonjour for that) on a local network. It’s universal plug-and-play that actually works. It seems like it would be no great trick to add Bonjour capabilities to the Pad to enable printing.
If Apple doesn’t do this, I think it will have a lot of frustrated users on its hands. The iPad is all about simplicity, and making people transfer files to a Mac or a PC via iDisk or as an email attachment so they can be printed is no way to keep things easy.