Apple has acquired Californian virtual reality startup NextVR, as first reported by 9to5Mac and confirmed by Apple to CNBC

Apple has not said the exact reason for the purchase (it never does) but it is more evidence that the company is continuing to ramp up its ability to virtual and augmented reality to its product line. The 2020 iPad Pro models came with LiDAR sensors in their cameras for more accurate AR applications.

9to5Mac estimates the acquisition at around $100m. The news was confirmed to CNBC with Apple’s standard response when it comes to acquisitions:

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

NextVR recently had a deal with the NBA to broadcast VR highlights of the 2019 NBA Finals hinting that Apple is exploring how it can become involved in live VR programming, though this is conjecture. According to CNBC, NextVR had 95 employees at last count and had raised $116m in funding from companies like Time Warner and Comcast Ventures.

NextVR’s website is simply now a landing page with a message that starts “NextVR is Heading in a New Direction.” It’s usual for this to happen, akin to Apple’s recent acquisition of weather app Dark Sky, whose website immediately reflected its new status.

We'll have to wait and see if Apple retains NextVR's employees, and what it decides to do with its newfound VR tech and intellectual property.