Google+ is hoping to expand your digital address book.
An update to the social network now allows Google+ users to send and receive emails from other Google+ connections even if they have never exchanged email addresses.
A new setting lets users specify whether they would like to receive emails from people in their circles, extended circles, or anyone on Google+. (They can also choose not to participate in this feature.) Any resulting messages will appear in the recipient’s Gmail inbox alongside a note that the message was received “via your Google+ profile,” according to Google’s blog post.
Google+ users were already able to message one another through hangouts, but the email functionality adds a more professional messaging option. Instead of a short, instant message-style interaction, users will soon be able to write as they would in other professional email settings while also including the info in their Google profile.
Users who agree to receive email via Goggle+ are not offering up their email addresses. Those remain private unless a user chooses to respond to a Google+ email, at which point the correspondence continues like any normal email exchange. In order to send a message via Google+, a user must share his or her email address with the recipient. In this instance, when a user begins to type a recipient’s name into the “To” box at the top of the email, Google+ profile images will crop up alongside potential recipients.