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Apple Reportedly Buys Metaio to Jump Into AR

This year's Google I/O started off with a heavy emphasis on virtual reality, and it appears Apple could be getting into the game soon as well. the company has reportedly purchased the German startup Metaio, which worked on both virtual and augmented reality projects.

The news surfaced on Twitter with a German document showing that Metaio's shares had been transferred to Apple. Commenting to TechCruch, Apple didn't give a specific reason for the purchase and stated only "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Metaio has been around since 2003 and has worked with companies including Ferrari on virtual and augmented reality apps and programs. While Apple didn't officially confirm the acquisition, Metaio has hinted at it: The company took down its Twitter account and canceled its InsideAR conference in San Francisco, which typically is an annual affair.

MORE: Google VR: Cardboard in the Classroom and Virtual Video Capture

Also, Metaio posted on its website that customers wouldn't be able to buy its products anymore. "Metaio products and subscriptions are no longer available for purchase," the notice states. "Downloads of your previous purchases will be available until December 15th, 2015, and active cloud subscriptions will be continued until expiration. Email support will continue until June 30th, 2015."

It's no secret that many major tech companies are investing in VR. From Samsung to Sony to Microsoft, virtual and augmented reality devices are becoming more mainstream, and Apple likely wants a place in that sphere. The acquisition comes on the heels of Google updating its Google Cardboard virtual reality device, which uses a smartphone and a paper headset to create a makeshift VR headset.

Not only is the possible purchase timely, but it falls in line with recent Apple activity: Earlier this year, the company patented an iPhone-compatible VR headset. Also, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is working on an augmented reality feature for its Maps app, which would let users hold their iPhone up to a street to see nearby businesses and information such as operational hours and menus.

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.