The folks over at Google just love their Google+ social network and more and more Google+ features have been creeping into Gmail lately as well. Today, Google is bringing even more of Google+ to its email client. With this update, Google is especially focusing on adding a deeper integration with Google+ circles. You will now, for example, see profile photos from people in your circles when you select a circle in the left sidebar. You can click on those images to search for email from a specific contact. In addition, if you really take your Google+ circles seriously, you’ll be happy to hear that you can now use circles as search filters in Gmail as well. Say you want to just see emails from your “friends” circle, you can now just type circle:friends to find them.
How useful these features are for you probably depends on how actively you use Google+. We have, however heard from many of our readers that this incessant focus on adding Google+ to just about every aspect of the Google experience is taking a toll on people’s patience. Instead of focusing on the fundamentals of the Gmail experience, for example, it feels as if Google is getting sidetracked left and right by Google+. As Y Combinator’s Paul Graham rightly noted earlier this year, “GMail has become painfully slow.” Adding more Google+ features to it is probably not making it any faster.
At least one new feature today, though, isn’t fully dependent on Google+ and actually quite useful (though it’s also integrated with it). When you search for an email address now, the search results will highlight your contacts’ details as well, including phone numbers, Google Chat status and email address. If you contact has a Google+ profile, this information will stay up to date automatically.