HP printers will get voice control soon via Alexa and Google Assistant

Voice control is the latest fad in consumer tech and that reality is underscored by a new announcement from HP: it will soon offer voice-activated home printers. By doing so, the company explains, it will be the first printer business to offer "intuitive voice commands" via major smart speaker products, namely through Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft's Cortana.

HP announced the new plans this week, explaining that while voice control has appeared on a large number of items, including places you probably wouldn't expect to find it (like toilets), it still isn't available on home printers. HP plans to change that. "HP believes the consumer printer market is ripe for voice integration," the company proclaims.

The new ability will be made possible via an HP Printer skill for the various smart platforms like Alexa. Once available, connected HP printers will be controllable via voice commands, enabling users to print whatever they need (Google Calendars and Amazon shopping lists are given examples) using verbal orders and nothing more.

The company anticipates its users getting to ask a smart speaker things like, "Am I low on black ink?" and getting a status back from the personal assistant. The skill would also offer elements of control over the printing process, such as allowing the user to specify the exact number needed.

Of course, the announcement raises an important question: do we actually need voice-controlled printers? No, of course not. That's not to say that someone won't find uses for them, but one has to wonder whether most people would be comfortable ordering a print job via voice. Unlike playing music or checking the weather, printing is a process that involves various settings and it's hard to tell whether they're all the way you need them using a smart speaker.