The landscape of document storage and management has evolved, and electronic signatures have become an indispensable tool for modern businesses. Reflecting this trend, Google has unveiled an open beta of its newly expanded eSignature capability within Google Workspace. This enhancement will be specifically available for Google Docs and Google Drive, catering to individual users and various group accounts alike.
Transitioning from a limited alpha release to an open beta, Google’s eSignature feature aims to simplify and streamline the signature collection process for solopreneurs and small businesses. The new capability allows users to seamlessly request and track digital signatures directly within documents, eliminating the need for cumbersome steps like printing, signing, scanning, and emailing.
In a blog post introducing the feature, Google highlighted the integration of eSignature within Google Docs: “To help streamline this workflow, we’re natively integrating eSignature in Google Docs, allowing you to request and add signatures to official contracts, directly in Google Docs.”
At its core, the eSignature function is straightforward – an electronic signature field that can be seamlessly incorporated into the document. While this initial offering provides a foundation for digital signatures, Google has indicated its plans to expand the feature’s capabilities. Upcoming additions may include an audit trail report to monitor signatures within Google Docs, support for multiple signers, the ability to share documents with external recipients outside of the Google Workspace ecosystem, and the option to obtain electronic signatures within PDFs.
Google’s move to introduce enhanced eSignature capabilities is in line with industry trends. Comparable offerings have emerged from other players, such as Box Sign introduced by Box in 2021. Dropbox, on the other hand, acquired HelloSign in 2019, although it has yet to bundle the feature into its services in the same manner as Box and Google.
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, an expert in the document management arena and the founder of Deep Analysis, sees Google’s move as a logical progression within the market. By offering this feature for free, Google allows users to seamlessly integrate electronic signatures into their workflow. Pelz-Sharpe remarked, “It’s been on the cards now for a while that digital signature will become a bundled feature function. Box provides it as standard, now Google. Over time it’s likely Dropbox and Microsoft will do the same or at least provide an alternative to third-party options.”
Google’s roll-out plan for the eSignature feature involves a phased approach. Over the next 15 days, individual Workspace users will gain access to the feature at no cost. Meanwhile, group users can participate by having their Workspace administrators apply for the beta, marking a significant step forward in streamlining document workflows for businesses of all sizes.