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Printer patents portend driver-free future

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published two patents in the past week that suggest Apple is trying to eliminate the much-loathed printer driver. As first noted by ConceivablyTech, the two patents each describe a way for your Mac to get the necessary driver information from the printer itself or from the cloud, without the need to install any software on the computer itself.

The first patent, aptly titled "Walk-up Printing without Drivers," describes how the printer itself could basically contains the driver and the computer would then read that driver wirelessly, which would enable one to print to it. The second patent, titled "Data Formats to Support Driverless Printing, " describes a method in which a user's print job data would be sent to the cloud in the background after the user clicks "print" on his computer. The cloud then encodes that print job with the proper data format for the desired printer and returns the information to the computer, which then passes it on to the printer. It may sound convoluted, but the cloud method all happens in the background in a matter of seconds.

Getting the right printer driver has been a bane for computer users since the '80s and with the rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, getting the correct driver on a mobile device could be even more bothersome. As Apple's patents suggest, storing the printer driver in the printer itself or in the cloud would be a way to ensure virtually any device can print to any printer.

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