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iOS 17 has a brilliant feature I need right now: It understands laundry icons on clothes

Published Jun 30th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
New iOS 17 features.
Image: Apple

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Apple released the first iOS 17 beta as soon as WWDC 2023 was over. But, unlike previous years, I didn’t hurry to get on the new iPhone software as soon as possible. It had nothing to do with the fact that Apple had changed the way you access betas. I wasn’t interested in the iOS 17 public beta either because I didn’t think I needed any of the features Craig Federighi announced on stage. And while I’ll certainly appreciate several of them, I don’t feel an urge to test them right away. I can wait until September.

However, I just discovered a brilliant iOS 17 Photos features I need now. Apple quietly upgraded the Visual Lookup feature that lets you recognize and explain items in photos. iOS 17 can now identify and explain all those mysterious icons you see on clothing labels. That’s a mind-blowing feature I wish we had all along.

I’ve been wearing and washing clothes for a lot longer than I’ve used iPhones, yet those laundry icons still elude me. I think I know what some of them mean, but not all. I’ve never cared to learn or memorize them.

Whatever information I’ve ever needed about doing laundry, I got from my parents when I was younger. Or others around me. Or from sales associates when buying specific clothes that require particular attention when washing.

I did want to understand what those symbols meant and remember them. But I never got around to doing it.

I still routinely check those tags, assuming I’ve not cut them off clothing items, to ensure I get the water temperature right. That is if a certain garment allows machine wash to begin with.

After the iOS 17 update, I’ll never bother to learn the laundry icons. I’ll just take a photo of the tag I’m interested in and then let the iPhone do its own thing. That’s the Visual Lookup feature that I’ve detailed in the past. With Visual Lookup, iOS will recognize plants, animals, works of art, and landmarks for you. Come iOS 17, we’ll add laundry symbols to the list.

iOS 17 Photos app understsands laundry icons via Visual Lookup.
iOS 17 Photos app understands laundry icons via Visual Lookup. Image source: Federico Viticci

Discovered by Federico Viticci, the iOS 17 laundry icon trick will probably become the Visual Lookup feature I’ll use the most.

As seen in the image above, iOS 17 sees those laundry icons and knows what they mean. Just scroll up on the photo of a clothes tag, and you’ll get a detailed explanation for each icon.

Come to think of it, while I don’t plan on learning what the laundry icons mean, it’ll inevitably happen starting with iOS 17. After all, those icons rarely change, so the more I read them, the more likely I am to remember what each of them means.

More importantly, iOS 17 might help me do laundry correctly, as I might pay attention to more details on the tags besides the temperature recommendation. And in turn, this will improve the health of certain clothing items, especially the more sensitive ones.

Per MacRumors, Apple will also show the source of its information. In this case, Apple is getting the laundry instructions from the International Organization for Standardization’s Online Browsing Platform.

The blog says that Visual Lookup can also detect car symbols on vehicle dashboards in iOS 17. That’s another feature that might be useful, though the laundry icon translator is the more exciting.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.