How to identify plants using just your iPhone – handy hidden tool all gardeners should use

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Camera and photo apps have undergone some major changes with the latest iOS 15 update, allowing iPhone users to access a long list of new features. Using your phone while on FaceTime is one of the more predictable innovations by Apple, but did you know that instant plant identification is also part of the update? Here’s how to use the handy gardening tool on your iPhone that can be used to identify almost anything you come across in your garden.

How to identify plants using just your iPhone

There are several reasons why you may want to identify plants growing on your property, or on the streets, and you don’t need to look any further than your iPhone to do it.

Whether you’re intrigued by a bright display of unusual flowers or your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, Apple’s new ‘Visual Look Up’ tool makes it possible to capture the plant in just one tap.

Apple said: “With Visual Look Up, you can quickly learn more about art, landmarks, nature, books and pets simply by tapping a photo on your device or on the web.”

The tool utilises the iPhone camera and Siri Knowledge feature to identify plants, flowers and trees captured by the lens.

According to Apple Insider, there are a number of ways that the feature can be used.

One way to try Visual Look up for yourself is to simply open your camera app and point the lens at an object in front of you.

This will automatically trigger the feature to appear over the image.

Similarly, if you capture a screenshot, the overlay tool will appear in the ‘edit’ window.

The best way to use the feature to identify plants is to:

  • Open the camera app on your iPhone
  • Capture an image of any plant in front of you
  • Open the camera roll or photos app
  • Tap on the image you want to open – this could be the one you just took or a previously saved photo
  • Swipe up or tap the circled ‘i’ icon in the toolbar
  • Tap on the ‘Look Up’ to launch the Siri Knowledge search engine

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Siri Knowledge will bring up several options with information about the identified plant or object, usually from Wikipedia.

Tap on the search results to get more information about the plant, flower or object in the image.

After testing the new feature, OSXDaily reported that the detection algorithm is “pretty good” at identifying common plants and trees, though some more “obscure” species were unsuccessful.

While there are other third-party apps that can be used to serve the same purpose, this is currently one of the only non-third-party features to be ‘built in’ to a smartphone.

Is the feature installed on every iPhone?

The handy tool can even be used to identify plants in existing photos stored in your photo gallery.

It works by highlighting objects and scenes that can be easily recognised in a captured image, using the Siri Knowledge feature to give you more information about them.

On their website, Apple states the Visual Look Up feature is only available on iPhone models “with A12 Bionic and later”.

The feature is available in English (Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK, US), French (France), German (Germany), Italian (Italy) and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, US).

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