Google wants to simplify online communication with new Gmail changes

Google further integrates Gmail with Google+. (Google Inc)

Google further integrates Gmail with Google+. (Google Inc)


, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

In the coming days you'll be able to email any Google+ contact, even if you don't have their email address.

It means that when you start typing a recipient's name in the address bar, Gmail will automatically suggest your Google+ connections as well as any saved email contacts.

And while it will no doubt make getting in touch with some people much easier, the new feature can also be seen as yet another attempt to try to make Google+ more relevant because despite its huge membership (500 million+ and counting), the social network is essentially a ghost town compared with other sites like Facebook.

For those worried about invasions of privacy and the threat of spam -- after all, not every connection on Google+ (or every 'Friend' on Facebook for that matter) is actually someone we really want to talk to or meet in person -- who can and can't email you via your Google+ profile can be controlled. Users can choose from "anyone on Google+"; "extended circles"; circles"; or "no one".

Other sensible features contained in the update include the fact that Google+ connections won't be able to see your email address unless you have emailed them in the past (and vice versa), and that unless flagged otherwise, messages from Google+ connections will land in a Gmail account's new Social folder to keep down inbox clutter.

The new features are rolling out now, and Gmail users will be getting an email from Google in the coming days offering more details and directing them to the settings menu.