by James A. Martin

Two iOS, Android Apps Let You Digitally Sign Documents

Sep 07, 20123 mins

With the right mobile app, adding your digital signature to a contract or other document can be relatively simple. blogger James A. Martin put two digital-signature apps to the test, one for iOS and another for Android, and found one to be completely useless.

I was recently waiting for a client to email me a contract I needed to sign in order to get paid–that’s important. Naturally, the contract, which turned out to be five separate documents, arrived while I was on vacation and I didn’t have access to a printer or scanner.

I had three options: 1) Wait until I got home to sign the docs, which meant I’d have to wait two extra weeks to get paid; 2) Find a FedEx Kinko’s, mail the document to them, have them print the docs, manually sign them all and then fax or scan the signed docs; or 3) Use this as a golden opportunity to investigate mobile apps that let you digitally sign documents.

I chose option number three and downloaded SignMyPad ($4) for iPad and SignNow (free) for Android. The iPad app did the trick, but it took me a while to get all five contracts signed and emailed. The Android app was a total bust. (SignMyPad is also available on Android for $4.)

SignMyPad lets you add text, such as a date, as well as a signature to PDF documents you receive via email or download from Google Docs, Dropbox, the Web or iTunes. With your finger or a stylus, you create a signature on the iPad’s touch screen that the app stores for later use. You can create additional signatures for a dollar each through in-app purchases. (The SignMyPadPro app for iPad adds geo-tagging to saved PDFs, but it’s $19—not worth the extra $15, in my opinion.)

SignMyPad lets you save signed documents and then attach them to email messages or upload them to Dropbox, to an app, or to a printer. Unfortunately, the app didn’t let me attach all five signed documents to one email, so I had to send each document separately. Also, it often deleted the names I assigned to each saved contract, so I had to manually rename them. And the app frequently crashed when I touched the “PDF List” button.

SignMyPad screen shot iPad

Even with those drawbacks, SignMyPad was way more useful than SignNow, the free Android app. SignNow lets you open a PDF or Word document you pull from an email, Dropbox, your device’s camera or other source. You can then sign it using your finger and the touchscreen and then email the signed document. The app also lets you enter text. Well. it’s supposed to let you enter text.

The reality: I could never get my text—the date on which I signed the contract—into its designated field on the document, because the app’s drag and drop placement never worked properly. I entered the date, and it showed up at the top of the following page. I couldn’t drag it back onto the page where it needed to be, no matter how hard I tried. The same was true with my signature; I created the signature without incident but could never get it positioned in the contract’s signature field.

Eventually, I just gave up. SignNow, which is free, proves the old adage: you get what you pay for. SignMyPad, on the other hand, is well worth $4 if you’re an iPad user and you want to be able to sign documents while on the go.