Slowly, Google+ is working its way into other Google services. Earlier today we reported on the ability to start Google+ hangouts directly from YouTube, and now Gmail is getting the Google+ treatment.
If the sender of an e-mail has shared any Google+ posts with you, a link to the most recent post will appear in Gmail’s “people widget.” The widget appears just to the right of the main e-mail window, showing a thumbnail image of the contact, recent messages and other contact options in addition to the new Google+ shared posts.
This is a very small step for Google+ integration—if none of your contacts have shared a post directly with you, you won’t notice any changes—but it’s just the beginning. The Gmail team hasn’t said what its other plans are for Google+, but I’m guessing we’ll eventually see more Google+ posts within Gmail and the ability to reply to Google+ posts directly from Gmail.
Tight integration with other Google services will be the key to success for Google+, because those services (Gmail, search, YouTube, Docs and so on) are already popular. Google+, with its “social circles” that let you control who sees what, could provide powerful sharing options. It’s safe to assume that tight Facebook integration will never come to those Google services, giving Google+ the upper hand.