Google has announced plans to make it easier for Gmail and Google+ users to connect via email.
The new functionality will allow users to search for contacts without knowing their email address. Similar to how Facebook private messages work, there will be the option to search for a new contact’s name and send them a message, only the message will go directly to the recipients Google account address. The search results will include current Google+ connections, but also provides the ability to search for anyone else with a Google account.
The feature has provoked a feeling of unease for both business and personal account users, because an email address, similar to a phone number is often distributed to personally selected contacts.
The new update means that Google+ users will be able to search for a name and if the contact is already a connection or has sent an email in the past, their email address will be visible. If the contact they are searching for has never been contacted before, only their name and profile will be visible, only until they reply to the message will it share their email address.
Google has promised that users will be able to control their privacy settings to opt in for people to be able to make contact using this new feature. It will also be possible to adjust the settings so that emails are filtered by ‘Primary’ and ‘Social’ categories, separating current contact emails from non-contact emails.
There are positive and negative features to this update. The fact that all users are able to connect without an email address is a clever step for Google, in their efforts to integrate social networking with their current platforms. On the other hand, users who keep their profile open to contact could also be targets of spam and aggressive email marketing.
As users are able to amend their settings, this can prevent the unwanted contact, but it also prevents them from taking advantage of the new feature. This leaves us with the question, is there a solution where people’s data can be shared but not abused by marketers?
On the other hand, the new feature envelops the aspects of contacting via LinkedIn, only the user can introduce themselves on a more personal level, more professionally so than using Facebook. For the many companies moving away from exchange servers, they are giving them another reason to convert to the Google mailing platform. On this note, who knows if it could become the new go-to email marketing tool?
For more information on this new addition, visit the Google blog here.