Google stops forcing Google+ on new Gmail users

Google no longer considers it necessary for Gmail users to have a Google+ profile.

After two years of foisting Google+ on new Gmail users, Google has finally provided an option not to join its would-be rival to Facebook.

Since 2012, anyone who signed up to Gmail would automatically get a Google+ profile, helping populate the then six-month old 'circle'-centric social network.

Now, new Gmail users can simply opt out of the mandatory Google+ sign-up by clicking "no thanks" during the process. They will, however, still get the option to sign up to Google+ when signing up to Gmail.

According to Google, the company removed the requirement from the Gmail sign-up earlier this month.

"Google updated the signup experience in early September. Users can now create a public profile during signup, or later, if and when they share public content for the first time (like a restaurant review, YouTube video or Google+ post)," the company said in an emailed statement.

The tweak to Google+ and Gmail integration follow a number of changes the company has made since the former head of its social efforts Vic Gundotra left the company in April.

Google has courted controversy with many of its Google+ integration projects, some of which it has back-pedalled on in recent months — such as reversing its real-name policy .

Another that it's only partially dealt with includes YouTube users who were angered when Google integrated Google+ with YouTube comments . In January, it offered YouTube posters a "fast tracked" set of tools for YouTubers to manage offensive comments.

While some have had a dim view of Google+, Google's social network has given birth to popular products, including Hangouts, which it spun out from Google+ this July. Previously, Hangouts required a Google+ account, but the change meant that all Google Apps customers could also use it.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported in August that Google was working to similarly untangle Photos from Google+.

Despite rumours following Gundotra's departure that Google was planning to let Google+ go the way of the Google RSS Reader, Google this month acquired polling startup Polar to help improve the usability of Google+ on mobile , suggesting it still has plans for the product.

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