Auto Trader has been forced to remove a key feature from its iPhone app, just two weeks after it was released. 

The DVLA has a problem with the image recognition element of the app, which allows users to take a photo of a car license plate and get results from dealers selling that make and model. 

The DVLA says that this feature conflicts with its code of ethics, as it allows users to capture images of vehicle license plates, though so do cameras and most mobile phones. 

According to Auto Trader:

The application draws only on publically available information and does not release owner details or information on where a vehicle is registered. However, we take consumer security extremely seriously and so have happily agreed to comply with the DVLA’s request. As a result, from the 30th March, the ‘snap’ function will be removed from the app.

It’s a puzzling move as the app provides no information other than the make and model of the car photographed, and since there are plenty of other mobile services which use license plate information, such as the vehicle text check services which are commonly advertised. 

It robs the app and its users of a valuable function, one which worked well and that also provided an added ‘wow factor’ for the app, though perhaps, if the image is the problem, Auto Trader can replace this with the option to type in license plate numbers to achieve the same result. On the face of it, this seems to be an odd decision on the part of the DVLA.