Twitter recently added a new feature that allows its users to toggle an option to receive Direct Messages from all users, not just those who are followed back on the social network. That's the start of something much larger in Twitter's plans for the service, according to a new report from AllThingsD.

There are dozens of chat applications available today, though Twitter might try to enter the space with its existing user base and has reportedly been tooling with the idea of a standalone application that would allow users to DM one another. That would essentially serve as a chat application, and could compete with services such as WhatsApp and GroupMe.

Twitter apparently spoke with another chat provider, MessageMe, earlier this year. That could hint toward a possible acquisition, which would make it easier for Twitter to get a DM chat platform off the ground. Snapchat has also been on Twitter's radar.

Oddly, this wasn't always the direction Twitter wanted to take. AllThingsD said it recently learned that Twitter was once of the mindset that everything should be public, instead of sent through private direct messages, and that DMs should not exist at all.

AllThingsD suspects we'll see some sort of major update on this front in the coming year. A Twitter chat application could serve as a second app for serving advertisements, which would boost revenue – something that's now incredibly important as the company's IPO approaches.