Stephen Lawson at IDG News Service rounds up the status of Wi-Fi Direct: I've thought Wi-Fi Direct is quite promising since its introduction, and Lawson explains where all the support for the standard is to be found, along with why it's hardly available. Wi-Fi Direct is a simple way to create a kind of ad hoc, WPA2-secured network between two devices. It will likely be used for file transfer between mobiles and for printing when you don't have access to the network to which the printer is attached.
Lawson doesn't mention it, but I keep coming back to operating system support. No mobile OS offers Wi-Fi Direct yet, which keeps the most promising market from using the service. Mac OS X and Windows 7 also don't include support. To use Wi-Fi Direct, you need a device that advertises itself in the right fashion and can create the secure connection, and a client that can connect to it.
Wi-Fi Direct hasn't failed, to be sure, but we're still waiting for real signs of life.
The closest example I use routinely now is AirPrint, built into the iOS 4.2 release for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Apple's solution is extremely limited in this release, allowing straightforward printing from any of its mobile devices to certain models of HP printer. The original AirPrint announcement said it would work with any Bonjour-capable device (that's the standard Apple developed and uses for service announcements on a network). One suspects we'll find that in the upcoming 4.3 release.
In the meantime, I use Printopia, a $10 utility that makes any Bonjour printer appears as if it's a qualified HP device. It also lets you "print" to PDF to the computer on which it's running, and print a PDF directly to Dropbox.
With AirPrint, I select the action button in any program that supports the standard set of forwarding commands, like send via email, and choose the Print option. I'm given the choice to select among printers (real and virtual), and then the item is sent without fuss.
That's what Wi-Fi Direct should work like, with little additional fuss, and I'll be happy when that notion is realized in hardware and software.