The integration of Google Plus into every Google product continues, with Gmail users set to receive the ability to send messages to contacts in their Google Plus circles.
In a post on the official Gmail blog, Google announced a new feature called Email via Google Plus, coming soon to Gmail for the web and mobile apps. The idea is simple – you will be able to send emails to your Google Plus circles, even if you don’t know their email address. Simply start typing their name in the “To” field, and the app will populate the dropdown with matching Google Plus profiles.
This new feature shouldn’t be a threat to privacy, in theory – your email address will only be shown to the contacts that you’ve sent emails to, and the other way around. So, that stalker who’s been following on Google Plus won’t get your email address unless you respond to their message.
If someone whom you don’t follow back sends you an email via Google Plus, their message will end up in the Social inbox, if you enabled Gmail’s multiple inboxes feature. If you don’t reply nor add that person back, he or she won’t be able to message you again.
Finally, the ultimate control measure is to disable the function altogether. You will have the option to accept emails from extended circles (people in your circles and people in their circles), your circles, from anyone on Google Plus, or from no one on Google Plus.
The feature should roll out to all users over the next couple of days; when you can use it, you will receive an email from Google with a link to the new setting.
Google has received a lot of flak for pushing Google Plus integration across its product set, most notably in the case of Search and YouTube. However, true to its pledge to make Google Plus the social spine of the entire Google ecosystem, the Mountain View company has pushed on. At the last official count, Google Plus had 300 million users active in the stream according to Google, though some have questioned the way activity on the social network is defined.