In an effort to make it simpler for users to obtain signatures and sign digital documents from within its cloud-based productivity tools, Google has announced that it is adding native support for eSignatures to Docs and Drive. After more than a year of testing the functionality in alpha, Google is officially releasing the ability to request and leave eSignatures in beta.
Although a number of applications, from locally installed apps like Adobe Acrobat to cloud-based ones like Dropbox, already enable esignatures. Thus, rather than breaking new ground, Google’s adoption of this capability is more about providing parity with its rivals. Once it is implemented, users should no longer have to often hop between multiple apps and tabs while working on contracts.
According to screenshots released by Google, users of Docs and Drive will be able to ask recipients for a full signature or only their initials. A “date signed” box can also be enabled to automatically fill in. The same template contract may be used to generate many signature requests, and according to Google, it also has the capability to track the progress of awaiting signatures. Since Google’s blog post states that “the ability to request an eSignature from non-Gmail users” won’t be available until later this year, it appears that users will only be able to request signatures from Gmail users for the time being.
Although Google’s eSignature service is moving from the alpha phase to the beta phase, not all Workspace users will have access to it just yet. The capability will be available in open beta to Workspace users in the coming weeks, but other Workspace Business or Enterprise users will only have access if their admins actively request it through a form. No information is provided regarding whether or when the feature will be added to Google’s free personal accounts, however, fingers are crossed for more details in the next coming weeks.