Popular PDF viewing application Adobe Reader just got infinitely more functional for business users, with one of its most significant feature updates in years.

Adobe has released a new version of Reader with native EchoSign integration that enables users to sign PDFs inside documents. The update also includes a “Send for Signature” option so you can send your PDFs off to other people to sign.

Adobe acquired electronic signature startup EchoSign in July 2011. In September, the company pushed out an EchoSign for Adobe Reader update to connect the two services in a makeshift fashion. Today, Reader with EchoSign demonstrates the almost-perfect efficiency we always wanted from the power couple.

How do the new Reader features work? They’re quite simple — almost.

“With the new update, when you open a PDF document to be signed with Adobe Reader, you will have the option to place a scanned copy of your signature into the document,” former EchoSign CEO and current Adobe vice president of web business services Jason Lemkin explained. “What if you don’t have the ability to scan an image of your signature? Don’t worry; we have that covered too. Using Adobe EchoSign, you can sign a document yourself by using the ‘Only I Sign; feature, which gives you the option to either draw in your own signature using a mouse or simply type it in.”

The “Send for Signature” option is also just as convenient as it is complex. You’ll need to open your document in Reader (the new version, of course), click the “Send for Signature” button, then use the separate Adobe EchoSign web software to prepare and send the document on to a contact for signature. Here you can add in additional fields such as company and title, as well as track the signature process.

The two e-signature processes sound a tad more involved than they should be, but we can certainly see how the updates could become indispensable and widely popular utilities for businesses of all sizes. After all, Reader is used by more than 1 billion people.

Curious about the legality about these e-signatures? Don’t fret, Lemkin said. “Documents signed using Adobe EchoSign are protected by the Federal E-SIGN Act, which makes online electronic signatures in a commercial transaction equivalent to a written signature.”

The new version of Reader is available for download now. Updates will be pushed out to existing Reader users over the next few days on a rolling basis.

Image via wiertz/Flickr

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