Google this week launched a new social network feature that allows Gmail users to contact any Google+ connection, regardless of relationship.
Part of the search giant’s continuing efforts to improve its struggling network, the update provides more email recipient options based on your saved contacts, as well as those people in your Google+ circles.
Google product manager David Nachum promised said the feature could be handy in those instances when you forget to exchange email addresses with a business colleague or personal acquaintance.
Actual email addresses are not visible to a Google+ connection until you respond to a message, and vice versa.
The search giant promised anonymity, though, for those users just looking to stalk friends’ vacation photos or keep up with their favorite news networks. To avoid random connections spamming your inbox, just adjust your Google+ settings to an appropriate level of access:
1. Sign into Gmail and Google+ using your universal login details.
2. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner, then click on ”Settings.”
3. Find the ”Email via Google+” option (ninth down from the top).
4. Next to the question of ”Who can email you via your Google+ profile?” click the drop-down menu to choose: anyone on Google+, extended circles, circles, or no one.
5. Choose your preferred level of control; to opt out completely, click ”no one.”
6. Note that: An email from anyone not in your Google+ circles must be approved by you before they can send more.
7. Click ”Save Changes” at the bottom of the page to ensure your new settings go into effect.
Depending on how you use Google+, and who you’ve connected with over time, it may be most prudent to completely block the feature. Remember: Friends and family typically already have your personal email address, or another means of communication, and would probably not turn to the social network to get in touch.
This update also takes advantage of Gmail’s new inbox categories: When someone in your circles emails you, the message will automatically land in the Primary category. Uncategorized Google+ users, meanwhile, will be filtered into the Social category.
Google’s new features are rolling out over the next couple of days to all Gmail and Google+ users.