Apple Buys Augmented Reality Company Metaio

It looks like Apple is ready to get into the virtual reality and augmented reality world with its recent purchase of Metaio. The company has already worked with big names Ferrari and Ikea, and now it will bring its expertise to Apple's products, too.

Apple gets into the VR world with Metaio purchaseApple gets into the VR world with Metaio purchase

Metaio's projects with Ferrari and Ikea let shoppers try out different colors and accessories in stores by aiming your smartphone camera at a product. For Apple, that technology could find its way into Maps and other apps where the company thinks it can enhance our real world experiences.

The company quietly shut down earlier this month without any warning or notice for its current customers, leaving them wondering what was happening. It wasn't until TechCrunch uncovered the purchase documents that the pieces came together.

Apple's response to inquiries about the purchase was its usual "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." That's Apple-speak for "We bought the company, but aren't going to talk about it."

News of Apple's purchase came as Google was announcing its latest augmented reality plans at its I/O conference this week. The company unveiled an iPhone-compatible version of Google Cardboard that lets users turn their smartphone into a AR camera, and it also announced a GoPro partnership to make a 16-camera mount for recording footage for VR.

Apple has been hinting through hires and patents that it's interested in the AR and VR space, but so far hasn't made any moves into the market. That's not too surprising considering Apple often lets its competitors get into a market, and then follows with its own products.

Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference is only a couple weeks away, so its possible we could learn more about the company's AR and VR plans then.