Next IPhone Update Helps Users Read Dashboard Warning Lights
When Apple's next operating system drops later this year, it’s supposed to include a feature that will help drivers decipher what those little symbols on the dashboard mean. While unlikely to offer the same amount of information as an OBD-II scanner, iOS 17 will come with an improved version of Visual Look Up. The new system offers users help when they can’t figure out what the warning light displaying the little oil can is trying to convey.
Visual Lookup has been around for a while and offers information using the image data on your phone. While you cannot use it on every image or expect it to provide a wealth of information, it’s pretty good at identifying popular artworks, animal breeds, or plant species. Alphabet offers something similar via Google Lens, for those already familiar.
Based on its previous functions, identifying hieroglyphic warning lights should be a breeze for Apple. However, it’s the kind of service we arguably never needed. While older vehicles couldn’t do much more than illuminate the relevant icon in the hopes that someone would diagnose the problem, newer models have a better chance of displaying text that helps specify what portion of the car is currently worrying the computer.
Meanwhile, older models were entirely reliant on this strange little object consisting of bound-together pieces of paper that provided information about the vehicle. Usually located in the glove box, this item is called a manual [man-yoo-uhl] and it includes an entire section explaining the purpose and meaning of each symbol. The only drawback is that you have to be willing to read it — something Forbes suggested a lot of drivers just aren’t willing to do due to how pleasantly long many manuals happen to be.
This would be a serious issue if you were required to read the booklet cover to cover each time you picked it up. But we happen to know of a little-known automotive trick that can expedite the process. Rather than thumbing through every single page of the manual, you can utilize the index to find the information you wanted and then turn to the relevant segment.
Alright, I’m being needlessly sardonic due to how quickly this supposed problem could be solved with some light reading. But automotive illiteracy is actually pretty rampant. I once had someone ask me what it means "when the little mailbox on the dashboard lights up." After a short investigation, the icon turned out to be their check-engine light.
While it’s hard to imagine that there are loads of iPhone owners who are looking at the symbols on their dashboards (which are designed to be easy to understand) and shrugging in perpetual bewilderment, it’s probably more common than we’d like to believe.
As for how effective Visual Look Up will be on iOS 17, 9to5Mac played with a beta version of the software to see what would be offered and found that the system works as advertised. Users simply need to take a picture of the icons they’re confused about (it doesn’t just need to be warning lights) and Apple will offer an itemized list of what it thinks you’re looking for. Each identified symbol comes with a brief description and comes with a link directing you toward offering more information via the Safari browser.
Accessing Visual Look Up requires users to open the Photos app on their iPhone and tap on a saved image or paused portion of a video. Assuming iOS 17 has identified symbols, you’ll see a special icon in the bottom toolbar. In the case of auto symbols, this icon will look like a steering wheel, though 9to5Mac said the standard Visual Look Up icon in some instances.
While iOS 17 was in developer beta testing, the public beta opened earlier this month. iOS 17 should be released to everyone in September and include the automotive update for Visual Look Up. However, there are numerous third-party applications that effectively do something similar and Google has its own Google Lens feature that is not exclusive to Android devices (just like Google Maps).
Though the information that’s being provided could be easily acquired via a quick internet search. Asking any browser a general question about the icons in your vehicle will yield dozens of sites offering comprehensive answers. However, the manual that came with the vehicle is probably your best resource and, even if you’ve misplaced it, there are plenty of websites dedicated to archiving digital copies for just about every model from the modern era.
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