Now anyone on Gmail can email a Google+ user and vice-versa

10 Jan 2014

Google has made changes to Gmail that may either inspire or divide the free email service’s 425m users. As of now, users with a Gmail account will be able to directly email Google+ users and vice versa, even if they don’t have their Gmail address.

The capability is opt-in, but the question is will users of Gmail or Google’s social network Google+ find this invasive and could it open the doors to spam or unwelcome access?

When composing a new email for example, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients.

But there is a caveat which could be the saving grace of the new capability. “Your email address isn’t visible to a Google+ connection unless you send that person an email, and likewise, that person’s email address isn’t visible to you unless they send you an email,” explained Gmail product manager David Nachum.

The key here, Nachum said, is that the user is in control and the capability takes advantage of Gmail’s inbox categories.

“When someone in your circles emails you, the email will appear in the Primary category. But if you don’t have them in your circles, it will be filtered into the Social category (if enabled) and they’ll only be able start another conversation with you if you respond or add them to your circles,” Nachum added.

How the new capability will fare only time will tell.

On the one hand, Google is attempting to bake Google+ into the wider plumbing of the internet today.

On the other hand, could it be seen as a desperate measure by Google to make Google+ as viable, popular and baked into the internet’s plumbing as Twitter and Facebook are today?

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years