Google+ Gmail Integration Bears First Fruit

Google is beginning to integrate Google+ posts in Gmail, starting with the Gmail people widget the company launched in May.

One of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) stated goals for Google+ has been to stitch the social network into the broad mesh of its Web services, and the work is well underway.

A Google engineer has crafted a way to surface in the Gmail people widget the most recent Google+ post that the sender of an email shared with a user.

Mark Striebeck, an engineering manager for Gmail who promised Gmail-Google+ integration back in July, offered a screenshot of this feature integration-code-named "unicorn"-on Google+ Aug. 22.

"Again, this is just the first launch-look out for more!" said Striebeck.

Google+ integration with Gmail is a big request for Google+ users, most of whom also use Gmail. The idea of the social inbox has been hot since about 2008, when Xobni stormed the market with its social inbox.

Microsoft's Outlook Social Connector feature is a key part of Outlook 2010. Google first tried socializing Gmail with Google Buzz in 2010, and launched its Gmail people widget in May to display content from friends and other contacts within Gmail.

Striebeck last month put the following questions to Google+ users via a Google Docs' spreadsheet survey form:

  • What email features would make it easier to interact with Google+?
  • How could we integrate Google+ features into Gmail?
  • How can we integrate social concepts in Gmail to make the email experience itself better?

Striebeck received some solid suggestions from early Google+ users, with the most basic asking that users be able to post content to Google+ from Gmail, as well as read comments that others leave on those posts from Gmail.

This isn't the first Google+ marriage with other Google Web services. Google+ posts now appear in search results, and users may trigger Google+ Hangout video chats right from YouTube.