Apple Faces Renewed Pressure to Enable FM Radio Chip in iPhones Amid Strong Hurricane Season [Updated]

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    A series of powerful storms over the past six weeks, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, has placed renewed pressure on Apple to enable the FM radio capabilities of the wireless modem in every iPhone.


    The biggest push continues to come from the National Association of Broadcasters, a lobbying group that represents over-the-air radio and television broadcasters in the United States, according to Bloomberg.
    Both the Qualcomm and Intel chips that enable Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity in every iPhone have a built-in FM tuner that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air. Apple has not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

    Powerful storms can leave thousands or millions of people without power or cellular service for weeks or even months, however, which can make it difficult or impossible to listen to FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular.

    FCC chairman Ajit Pai also renewed his calls for smartphone manufacturers to enable the chip during a recent trip to areas of southern Florida devastated by Hurricane Irma earlier this month, according to the report.

    Pai, speaking with ABC affiliate WPBF 25 in West Palm Beach, said the chip is especially valuable "when it's an emergency."
    In February, at the Future of Radio and Audio Symposium in Washington D.C., Pai said "radio is vital" when disaster strikes.
    He added that most consumers would enjoy the ability to access free content over the air, like music on FM radio stations, which some critics believe is a key reason why Apple hasn't enabled the functionality.
    Pai noted that he is a believer in free markets and the rule of law, and he thereby cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips, nor does he believe the FCC has the power to issue such a mandate.

    Apple declined to comment on the report, and its stance on the activation of FM receivers in iPhones remains unclear.

    Update: FCC chairman Ajit Pai has issued a statement that directly calls on Apple to "step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first" by activating the FM radio chip in iPhones, in light of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
    Update 2: MacRumors has received the following statement from an Apple spokesperson:
    We'll update this article if the FCC responds to Apple's statement.

    Article Link: Apple Faces Renewed Pressure to Enable FM Radio Chip in iPhones Amid Strong Hurricane Season [Updated]
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    It would be a great feature to have especially when I am in a dead zone or overseas.
  3. brian3uk macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2016
    They should enable it, simple as that. I have comments about Pai and the FCC but since this is not in that forum I wont say them. ;)
  4. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    I have never understood why this was not done a long time ago. Tuners in Phones was a standard practice at one time and made a lot of sense both for when no data link was available, in emergency situations as outlined above and generally for saving data bandwidth. The headphone on these phones always acted as the arial so not sure how this would be handled today in the Apple world where the headset has been removed.
  5. TheTruth101 Suspended

    Mar 15, 2017
    Hahahaha, Apple will not do that in a million years! Apple will pull all your money no matter what.
  6. Danbrown521 macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2011
    Lakeland, Fl
    Would have been nice when we lost power for a week after Irma here in Florida. I’m all for it.
  7. Markoth macrumors 6502


    Oct 1, 2015
    Behind You
    FM Radio might hurt Apple Music subscriptions, though. What to do...
  8. jonnysods macrumors 603


    Sep 20, 2006
    There & Back Again
    I think its a good idea. They can make an app pretty easily for that that is an optional download.

    But for people's safety it would be a great feature. Heck I would use it when I'm biking I think. Data free!
  9. imran5720 macrumors regular


    Dec 21, 2013
  10. sputnikv macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2009
    as someone who lost power for over a week due to irma, i will say that cell service of any sort was extremely spotty, both data and for calls. we pulled out the old fm radio which was fine to a point. thing is, if you can charge your phone in your car, you're going to be listening to the radio there. listening to the radio on the phone, unless you have generators or a lot of battery spares is not ideal as the phone is a potential lifeboat for contacting others and you want to preserve that as much as possible.
  11. EdT macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2007
    Omaha, NE
    "Apple declined to comment on the report, and its stance on the activation of FM receivers in iPhones remains unclear."

    I think Apple's position is quite clear. The just don't want something in writing stating implicitly what they are doing.
  12. norbinhouston macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2011
    So when a hurricane hits and there is no power, they want people to use their barely making a whole day battery iPhone, as an FM radio? ok.
  13. Markoth macrumors 6502


    Oct 1, 2015
    Behind You
    I've used my laptop as a giant iPhone battery in the past for that very reason. Lasts a very long time that way, just have to keep your laptop in sleep mode.
  14. Lidar macrumors member


    Feb 9, 2015
    I see a petition starting sometime soon...
  15. Ryanhdd macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2007
    Virginia Beach, Virginia
    Agreed! Apple should allow this! It’s a shame they more than likely never will.
  16. d0minick macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2011
    I live in Miami so it would have been nice. but apple doesn't get a cut of FM revenue.
  17. applesith macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2007
    This would be a great option, but would obviously impact revenue for streaming services as well as the carriers' data plans. It won't happen.

    If anything, they should include AM tuning to get mostly non-music channels for emergencies.
  18. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    I don’t understand why a selling point to the iPod Nano isn’t enabled on these phones to add functionality. Clearly they have the ability to create a decent tuner application. They even had commercial skip / rewind functions in it.

    That way when we receive one of those Amber Alerts, we can tune into something over the air, as opposed to relying on someone to update a website for us.

    Even better, Enable the WX band on chips that support those frequencies, and put in a NATIVE weather radio application.
  19. Rshill macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2010
    I think there is more to it than just enabling it. The antenna would likely involve some extra engineering effort. Some devices historically have taken advantage of the headphones, which don't exist on the iphone anymore. Apple also cares about the user experience. They won't enable it if it's going to suck, which it likely would. Even the best FM antennas are pretty lousy.
  20. LovingTeddy macrumors 68000


    Oct 12, 2015
    you can easily make a temporary battery pack with 9 volt battery and cigarette lighter charger. Very cheap solution for emergency purpose.
  21. simonmet, Sep 28, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017

    simonmet macrumors 68020


    Sep 9, 2012
    FM (and for that matter AM) radio is old technology. It sounds terrible and suffers breakup and interference easily.

    What about newer digital radio broadcasting standards? Can the iPhone support those?
  22. OldSchoolMacGuy Suspended


    Jul 10, 2008
    Examples of "standard" practice and the multitude of phones with FM available? I've owned more than 100 models of cell phone over the years and only 1, from Sprint back in the early '00s, has had a FM receiver enabled.
  23. mrklaw macrumors 68020

    Jan 29, 2008
    yeah this - all the phones I've ever used that had FM radios (mostly old Nokias back in the day) required headphones to be connected to act as the antenna. I suppose Apple could support with the lightning dongle but may be an issue
  24. coolfactor macrumors 601

    Jul 29, 2002
    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    This would be a great idea, and I find it puzzling Apple has kept this feature disabled. There have been numerous times when listening to FM was preferable over streaming. And not even emergencies.

    Apple — this very discussion shows there's great interest in this idea. Do it.
  25. mytdave macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2002
    Enabling the FM capability doesn't fit their agenda/business model, and their vested interests in Apple Music. If Apple ever enables FM radio in iPhones, I'll eat my shorts. It's the same sort of stubbornness streak that keeps Apple from supporting open protocols, codecs, standards, etc. (except for a select few that meet their business interests).

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