January 09, 2014, 1:27 PM — Google has deepened the integration between its Plus social network and Gmail, adding a feature that auto-suggests Plus contacts when Gmail users are typing in email recipients.
The feature will be rolled out over the coming days to all Gmail users who also have Google Plus profiles.
Gmail will auto-suggest Google Plus users that the email sender has added to his Circles on the social network. Circles is the term Google uses for connections on Plus.
However, email senders will not see the email address of the Plus contact being auto-suggested unless the contact responds to the message.
Google Plus users are able to control who can contact them from Gmail in this way with four options. They can opt out entirely, so that they won't appear in Gmail auto-suggest. They can limit the feature to include only people they have added to their own Circles. They can make the scope broader by extending it to people with a second degree of Circles separation, meaning people you're not connected to but who are connected to someone in your Circles. The last option is to open up the feature to anyone on Google Plus.
The goal of this new feature is to make it easier for Google Plus users to communicate via Gmail.
Google has said repeatedly that its intention is to integrate Plus broadly and deeply with its other services, sites and web applications, so that it can act as a common, underlying social networking layer. Google has integrated Plus with Gmail, Blogger, Apps, YouTube and other products to varying degrees already.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.