Google announced the launch of a new social element to Google News, involving the spotlight section. On the Google News Blog, software engineer Erich Schmidt (yep, that's what it says) writes:
Over the past few months, myriad sites across the web (including Google News) have adopted the +1 button to help start conversations. But there hasn’t been an easy way for signed-in users to see what news articles your friends are enjoying -- until now.
Starting today, the Spotlight section will sometimes include articles that your Gmail contacts and people in your Google+ circles have publicly +1’d. You can see their profile pictures and click through to their Google+ profiles, just like on Social Search. And of course you can +1 the stories too, expressing your opinion and optionally sharing with your circles.
Here's what it looks like:
It's interesting just how big a role social media, and Google+ in particular is starting to play in Google search. That said, it's a little surprising that it's taken this long to see this kind of thing come to Google News. I'd expect greater integration in the future.
Google has been abundantly clear from the start that Google+ will be heavily integrated across its products. It's that very fact that gives Google+ a legitimate shot at taking on Facebook for social identity.