- No need to feel intimidated by the growing array of icons on your car’s dashboard, at least not if you have an iPhone with the upcoming iOS 17 update.
- The new iOS 17 introduces Visual Look Up, a way to identify objects in pictures. The feature explicitly identifies in-car symbols, offering a way to know what those squiggly lines and trapezoids mean.
- Not everyone needs this kind of information, but for people who don’t drive often or might otherwise feel uncertain about a car’s features, this promises to be a simple way to learn what that button does.
Modern smartphones have the power to connect to satellites, reach people around the world, and, finally, tell you what that unknown dashboard light means.
Okay, okay, we hear you. This is news? Cars have had actual paper manuals that should help any driver understand what this red or that orange warning light is all about. But not everyone wants to read a paper manual when a phone is at hand, and sometimes we just like pretending we’re from the future.
Enter Apple’s upcoming software update for the iPhone, called iOS 17, and its ability to identify dashboard lights using Visual Look Up. Visual Look Up does exactly what you would think it does: identify something in a picture or video and then search for information on that item. A Reddit user noticed an “auto symbol” category in the beta version of the software and shared three examples: hazard warning, windscreen defrost, and ventilation airflow.
The Apple-focused website 9to5Mac tested the beta software and found the symbol look-up feature to “just work” and that it can “identify multiple symbols and icons in the same picture.” The site found that Visual Look Up can identify such features as dashboard lights, climate control symbols, headlight options, and defrosting. The phone’s results provide a short description of the icon and a link to find more information.
The phone can identify these symbols anywhere on the dashboard, not just for warning lights. Want to know what a button in a rental car does before you push it? Visual Look Up can tell you.
People with Android phones can get similar help by using Google Lens (also available to Apple users). This general app can identify objects in pictures or the live feed from the camera. If Android users don’t want to bother with the camera aspect, they can check out the third-party Dashboard Warning Lights app. This app won’t identify the symbols independently but presents images of standard warning lights and explains what they mean.
When iOS 17 arrives, Apple’s annual operating system update will have a few other features of potential interest to drivers. The built-in Maps app will not be able to download map data so it can be used offline (something Google Maps has been capable of for years), and it will feature real-time electric vehicle charging station availability along your route, as long as your charging network provides this kind of data.
iOS 17 arrives in September as a free upgrade for compatible phones.
This content is imported from poll. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
Sebastian Blanco has been writing about electric vehicles, hybrids, and hydrogen cars since 2006. His articles and car reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Automotive News, Reuters, SAE, Autoblog, InsideEVs, Trucks.com, Car Talk, and other outlets. His first green-car media event was the launch of the Tesla Roadster, and since then he has been tracking the shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles and discovering the new technology’s importance not just for the auto industry, but for the world as a whole. Throw in the recent shift to autonomous vehicles, and there are more interesting changes happening now than most people can wrap their heads around. You can find him on Twitter or, on good days, behind the wheel of a new EV.