Google is slowly weaving Google+ into its products, just like it promised. And, just like it promised, it's doing it one very small step at a time. The latest example, in what's becoming an increasingly long string, is integration with the people widget in Gmail.
Recently, Gmail introduced a new feature, that third-party add-ons had been doing for a while now, which enabled you to get more info on the people that sent you any given email and also their latest updates from various social networks.
Now, Google+ has been added to the list, a natural and obvious move. But it's a move you're going to see repeated in countless other places and Google products.
"A first, tiny step: view recent Google+ posts in the Gmail people widget!," Google's Mark Striebeck announced, where else, on Google+.
"You can now see the most recent Google+ post that the sender of the email shared with you in the Gmail people widget," he said. He also provided some insight into the whole process.
"BTW: +Bella Kazwell is a tech lead on the Gmail team and +Steven Bills is the engineer who implemented this particular feature. Oh, and before you ask, 'unicorn' is what we nicknamed our internal Gmail test environment," he explained.
"I.e. the Google+ post here from Bella is pretty much the first one that was ever served from Gmail!," he added. "Again, this is just the first launch - look out for more!"
Google+ is just another data source for Google and it's hardly the most important at this point. But it's a data source that it controls entirely, which is precisely why it wanted to have a social network of its own.
What's more, it's why it didn't feel the need to strike a deal with Twitter to access the tweet firehose for its real-time search feature, which got shut down until it can launch again with data mainly from Google+.