Apple buys a maker of futuristic augmented-reality software

Apple has bought a company that makes augmented-reality software, which adds information or images to real-world scenes when viewed through a special headset or even a smartphone camera.

It's the latest sign that major tech companies see big potential for products that let users view the world with extra features added by technology.

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Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are all working on augmented- or virtual-reality products. Augmented reality can add hand-drawn sketches, navigational directions,historic video or computer-generated, three-dimensional images to a real-worldscene. Virtual reality can make viewers feel as if they are immersed in an artificial world.

Apple on Thursday confirmed the purchase of Munich-based Metaio for an undisclosed sum but did not say what it plans to do with the technology.