Some things, as the saying goes, are not meant to last. Apparently, that is the case with the new AirPrint feature in the upcoming iOS 4.2 for the iPad that was set to allow users to print wirelessly to any printer connected to their Mac or PC.
I say "was" because it is becoming increasingly apparent that Apple has pulled some of the AirPrint functionality off the table, at least for now. Developers are reporting that references to printing via a Mac or PC have been removed from online documentation, and the downloads that Apple had provided for beta versions of OS X 10.6.5 and iTunes 10.1 -- specifically so that developers could test AirPrint from their apps -- are no longer available. Support for printing directly to a limited set of new HP network-connected printers that support AirPrint natively are unaffected, but this is of little comfort, as most end users do not have these printers yet, and the ability to print via a desktop would have allowed printing to any brand or model of printer that was connected.
Many developers have raised questions concerning the change on Apple's developer forums, and while an official response or announcement has not been publicly made by Apple as of yet, one developer reports that they contacted support via e-mail and received the following reply:
"Support for AirPrint on Windows and Mac has been canceled. We will be in contact with you if another opportunity arises in the future."
While this would not be the first time that Apple has pulled or changed a significant feature prior to release, it is frustrating for developers who have spent time, money, and other resources developing an app that relies on that feature to have it suddenly removed. Further, the lack of notice or official communication from Apple on the matter adds to the uncertainty, as developers are left not knowing whether the functionality will ever be released, leaving some very promising apps in limbo until an announcement is made.