Twitter is revamping its private messaging feature and could release a standalone app for messages, according to a new report. All Things D, citing anonymous sources, says the overhaul of messages is coming in "the near future." It comes at a time when messaging apps have exploded globally, with companies like WhatsApp, Line, and Kik attracting users by the hundreds of millions. And it would mark another direct point of competition with Facebook, which has a popular standalone messaging app of its own.

Signs that direct messages are being overhauled have been evident for weeks. Recently, Twitter began testing a feature that allows people you are not following to send you direct messages. That feature began rolling out globally this week. As All Things D notes, direct messages were a long-neglected feature that many expected Twitter would eventually kill. But the rise of messaging apps, and Twitter's ongoing quest to attract mainstream users, have made the company reconsider their value. Twitter wants to be the hub of the global conversation, and private messages appear to be an increasingly important part of that.