New Google products users are automatically registered for a Google+ account as of today, including those signing up for Gmail, YouTube, and Blogger, unless opting out by using an already-existing Gmail account.
Users are required to use a Gmail address to sign in to any of Google's products and now, the Google+ registration is built-in. See below:
The last few weeks have seen a flurry of efforts on Google's part to get new users into their social network, the platform used to verify identities for the U.S. government's National Strategies for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace program, which looks at improving how users sign into government and other websites.
Just over a week ago, Google launched Search Plus Your World, which integrates Google+ activity in personalized search results. In mid to late December, we started to see Google+ brand pages results embedded in primary organic search results, a move that once again kicked off the Google anti-trust grumbling.
When someone registers a new Gmail account now to access YouTube and other Google services, users are sent to a confirmation page pointing out their Google+ notification bar and encouraging them to use Google's social networking service.
Yesterday, Larry Page announced that Google+ has reached 90 million users, with 60 percent engaging daily and 80 percent engaging daily. As Ars Technica confirmed, though:
"The 60 and 80 percent figures refer to users accessing any Google service—whether it be search, Gmail or something else—while logged in to their Google account, and do not necessarily indicate actual usage of Google+ each day or week. The 90 million figure refers not to active users, but to the total number of people who have created Google+ accounts."
Once registered, the user sees two new Google+ notifications in their activity bar, both linking to Google+ help resources.
"This past quarter we began to simplify the Google experience," Page said yesterday. "Gmail, Android, Chrome, search, ads, and YouTube are in the early stages of having deep support for your identity and your relationships. Expect us to deliver something truly beautiful. We've only just begun to work on that promise."
It makes sense for Google to try to get as many people possible onto the network. Eric Schmidt, in discussing the online identity ecosystem last year, said, "So the solution of course that we've come up with is called Google+, which is in essentially early beta, and it looks like it's doing very well so far. It essentially provides an identity service."
Identity providers must comply with strict government regulations to offer their services as certified identity providers for federal websites. Other companies can use this technology as well, though as you can imagine, the many departments of the U.S. government offer a lucrative opportunity for providers who get in at the ground level.
Privacy advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, have voiced concerns over online user verification systems, including the risks of increased surveillance or identity theft.
As EPIC associate director Lillie Coney told the New York Timesin September 2011, "Look at it this way: You can have one key that opens every lock for everything you might need online in your daily life. Or, would you rather have a key ring that would allow you to open some things but not others?"
For their part, EFF's senior lawyer Lee Tien offered that the government would need new privacy laws or regulations to prohibit identity verifiers from selling user data or sharing it with law enforcement officials without a warrant.
Google is an active player in the online identity verification arena, as one of the five sustaining OpenID Foundation members (alongside Microsoft, PayPal, Symantec and Ping Identity). To learn more about incorporating a federated login system to your website, visit the Google Identity Toolkit.
What do you think of Google's incorporation of Google+ in all other service registrations? Let us know in the comments!