Apple’s iOS 17 Will Decode Your Car’s Dashboard Symbols and Warning Lights

Apple’s iOS 17 Will Decode Your Car’s Dashboard Symbols and Warning Lights

The easiest way to avoid a costly repair job on your vehicle is to take it in as soon as warning lights pop up on your dashboard, but that assumes you understand what each dashboard symbol means — and when your car is reaching out for help. You can do one of two things to ensure you know what your car is saying: read through the manual or upgrade to iOS 17 when it’s available, which will turn your iPhone into a translator for your sick car.

According to a Reddit user testing the beta version of iOS 17, which anyone can now download and try for free (at their own risk), the capabilities of the Visual Look Up feature are being expanded to include all of the various symbols on a vehicle’s dashboard — everything from the labels used for HVAC controls, to the warning lights that only turn on when there’s a problem. Reddit user yahlover shared several screenshots of the iOS 17 beta successfully recognising and showing explanations for symbols like the double triangle labelling the button that turns on a car’s hazard lights, and even the setting that defrosts the windshield. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the images.

Apple introduced a feature with iOS 15 called Visual Look Up that uses AI to analyse photos taken with the iPhone’s camera and attempt to decipher them, providing more information about what’s in the shot. It gave the iPhone the power to determine the breed of the dog you snapped at the park, or what type of flower was growing in your neighbour’s garden.

It’s an application that demonstrates the practical benefits of AI, and Apple continues to expand the capabilities of the Visual Look Up feature. Last month, the company announced new accessibility features coming to iOS and iPadOS including a Point and Speak feature coming to the Magnifier app allowing those with visual disabilities to simply point at something with a text label to have it automatically recognised and read aloud by their mobile device, such as the various buttons on a microwave oven.

Although these symbols are now nearly universal across all vehicles, they can still be cryptic, especially to newer drivers. And while eventually vehicle dashboards will all just be giant screens with the ability to provide more descriptive information about controls and warnings, it’s going to be decades before the standard dashboard iconography used today disappears forever.

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