Twitter to target WhatsApp with upcoming direct chat update

Saqib Shah
July 21, 2014

Twitter has its sights set firmly on Facebook and WhatsApp as it readies a new update that will introduce direct chat functions.

Direct messages (DMs) already exist on the social network but aren’t considered very popular due to their limited 140 character limit and lack of synchronisation between Twitter’s desktop and mobile apps.

However, the new update – set to roll out over the next few weeks – will change all that by enabling the social network to work as a chat application, according to Twitter.

“Over the next few weeks, we’re rolling out an update that makes deleting DMs more consistent across web and mobile,” said the company in a Twitter Support tweet.

“We’re also making an update to the Twitter iPhone and Android apps that will allow you to access your entire DM history.”

It is thought that Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp is the main influence behind Twitter’s decision to pursue messaging functions as a key feature in its development plans.

Twitter chief Dick Costolo spoke of his company’s new direction in an April earnings call.

“There’s a real opportunity for us, when we think about our private messaging, to strengthen the core of our Twitter product by making it easier for users to move more fluidly between the public conversation that happens everywhere on Twitter, and the private conversation between you and a friend or you and a few friends,” said Costolo.

Returning to the topic of synchronisation,   Twitter hasn’t confirmed whether the new chat functions will be available via third-party apps like Tweetbot or Hootsuite.

Judging by the news, however, it seems Twitter is trying to relegate the need for external apps by bringing an increasing number of functions in-app.


About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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