HelloSign, the e-signature service from electronic fax company HelloFax Inc., has now integrated its service into Gmail, allowing users to sign documents within message threads on the popular free email program from Google.

The new feature will preclude the need for Gmail users to download and upload documents they want to sign, said HelloFax CEO Joseph Walla. Users can now use the free service instead to sign documents from within Gmail.

A Gmail message received with the integrated feature will show the message has an attachment, which, in addition to the usual clickable "View" and "Download" options, will have a "Sign" choice as well.

When the "Sign" link is clicked, a PDF document will pop up in a window, which receivers can then sign with their fingers on their smartphones’ screens, their mouses via their desktop computers or a saved signature image already stored with HelloSign.

Currently available only on the Google Chrome Web browser with a plug-in downloaded from HelloSign, only the sender needs to be a HelloSign user, said Joel Andren, head of business development and marketing at HelloFax. The person receiving the email must be using a supported browser, but does not need to be a HelloSign user.

Integration with additional Web browsers Firefox and Apple’s Safari will be available soon, Andren said.

"This feature took some extra effort to develop," Walla said. "We noticed that email was a major transaction point," and so the company decided to invest the time to develop the tool, which, he estimates, allows users to sign documents in about 30 seconds.

Walla says HelloFax, which launched HelloSign last September, is the only company to offer e-signature integration within Gmail. It was challenging to develop, he said, because Google doesn’t facilitate tools that help software developers make tools that integrate with the Gmail platform.

The HelloSign service is currently free, Walla said, but the company is planning on rolling out paid features like work-flow management and e-signature branding. The core signature tool, he’s said, however, will always be free.

HelloSign real estate clients include national virtual brokerage eXp Realty, Boston-based real estate firm Warren Residential Group, Maryland-based Home Towne Real Estate, and Realty Right Texas in Houston.

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