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Google+ mission creep continues with Hangouts slotted into Gmail

You can still use it with pals on Google+! If any

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Google's social networking mission creep continued with Gmail on Monday when the ad giant slotted its Google+ Hangouts function into its web email service.

The company confirmed it had ditched its peer-to-peer video chat feature.

"Hangouts utilise the power of Google’s network to deliver higher reliability and enhanced quality," it said.

"You’ll be able to chat with all the same people you did before and, in fact, with Hangouts you’ll now be able to reach them not only when they are using Gmail but also if they are on Google+ in the browser or on their Android or iOS devices."

In 2010, Google unceremoniously dumped its creepy near-realtime Buzz service onto Gmail - much to the condemnation of much of the firm's userbase.

This time around, Google's efforts to layer its services with social goo is much more measured. Presumably, the company is hoping that gradual tweaks to Gmail will eventually lock-in its users to Google+.

In its blog post announcing the shift from P2P video chat to Google Hangouts for Gmail, Mountain View couldn't resist sniggering that users can now wear a "virtual mustache or pirate hat" on the service.

Surely, Google isn't playfully letting its users shield their identity even as the ad machine hoovers up as much of that information as possible, is it? ®

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