FCC Urges Apple to Protect Safety of Americans by Activating FM Radio Chip in iPhones [Updated]

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

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Amidst renewed pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has now issued a statement urging Apple to activate the FM radio capabilities built into the wireless modem of every iPhone.


    Pai said he hopes Apple will "reconsider its position" following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have devastated parts of the United States, including Florida and Texas, and Caribbean islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Puerto Rico.

    Powerful storms can leave thousands or millions of people without power or cellular service for weeks or even months, and over-the-air FM radio can provide vital access to weather alerts and other life-saving information.

    Pai added that "it is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first."

    His full statement:
    Pai has advocated for the activation of the FM tuner in all smartphones before, but this is the first time he has called out Apple by name.

    A study by the National Association of Broadcasters last year found only 44 percent of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had FM radio capabilities enabled. 94 percent of the unactivated devices were iPhones.

    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.

    Apple hasn't revealed why it keeps the FM radio functionality disabled. Some critics suggest it could be to avoid losing Apple Music subscriptions, but the real reason is probably deeper than that.

    Update: 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: FCC Urges Apple to Protect Safety of Americans by Activating FM Radio Chip in iPhones [Updated]
  2. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Completely agree. Apple should Enable it for safety precautions. For those living where Hurricanes are more Prevalent, this could be a useful tool when they need it most.
  3. codewrangler macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2009
    Dallas, TX
    I think it would just be cool to get analog radio on my digital device...wish there was an AM radio on the chips too...
  4. koulmj Suspended


    Mar 18, 2013
    ... OK Apple didn’t even want to bring back the headphone jack. I have almost no faith if they’ll do anything to support FM radio antennas
  5. skeuomorphism macrumors newbie


    Jun 10, 2015
    Are the antenna pins on the receiver even connected to anything?
  6. ThisBougieLife macrumors 68000


    Jan 21, 2016
    SF Bay Area, California
    I honestly never even knew the iPhone had FM radio capabilities. It would be cool to be able to listen to FM radio with the iPhone. "Competition with Apple Music" seems like a flimsy reason to leave it deactivated, though.
  7. techwhiz macrumors 6502a

    Feb 22, 2010
    Northern Ca.
    He should also be calling out the carriers that request the functionality be turned off in Android phones.
    Ajit also has some incorrect information. Even if the modem is there, you need an application to interface and tune the frequencies. You also need an antennae. In most phones this is provided by the headphones.
    New iPhones don't have a headphone.
    Will not work.
  8. costeta macrumors member

    Jul 24, 2008
    This should be a no brainer. In emergencies, you might need the FM on your phone to listen to life-saving information.
  9. bluespider macrumors 6502


    May 12, 2009
    Space Coast FL
    Is this something they even could activate with a software update, seems like an odd request if it would reguire a hardware configuration change...
  10. Suckfest 9001 macrumors 65816

    Suckfest 9001

    May 31, 2015
    I don't disagree with enabling FM, but Ajit Pai pretending to be the hero here is laughable. He's been a major PITA for net neutrality for the past while and as such has zero credibility behind his voice. If you want FM to be enabled, find a better spokesperson than this joke.
  11. Rian Gray macrumors regular

    Rian Gray

    Jul 13, 2011
    NJ, United States
    I'm not even sure why they decided to disable it in the first place.
  12. DrumApple macrumors 6502a

    Jan 30, 2009
    I love FM radio, listen every day for hours. I was considering a BlackBerry KeyOne because it has FM radio, albeit you have to have headphones plugged in.

    Would love to see my iPhone get FM radio. Maybe it drains battery?
  13. filmantopia macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2010
    He's evil.
  14. iPadPublisher macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2010
    My understanding is that it’s always been about the function not working well. Apple set out to develop a phone, not a handheld radio. A chip they’ve chosen to help perform the phone’s functions also has some FM utility, but Apple hasn’t spent a lick of energy on engineering the antenna or software to really USE that function. I don’t believe that it’s as simple as turning it ON as the FCC chair is suggesting.

    Apple should turn it on, so millions of us get static, to prove how ignorant the request is.

    However, I have no idea if any of this is true and for all I know, they could turn it on tomorrow and it’d sound and work fine. Only Apple really knows that.
  15. BeyondtheTech macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2007
    Android devices that utilize the FM chip require the use of wired headphones in the headphone jack as the antenna. I'm not sure Apple has incorporated the functionality of utilizing the Lightning port and Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter as an FM antenna.

    Well, at least the iPhone XI has a shot of getting the headphone jack again.
  16. miketcool macrumors 6502a


    Jun 24, 2003
    What security implications arise from turning on FM? What could be broadcast to the phone via FM, or what could the phone broadcast that wouldn't be detected?
  17. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    I agree, but in today's clickbait world (and the FCC commissioner is a complete jackass) Apple gets put in the headline when the vast majority of smartphones around the world do not have the FM transmitter enabled either. Funny, that.
  18. macTW Suspended

    Oct 17, 2016

    Apple has been, with its security. It’s time the government finally does.
  19. macaddiict macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    I can understand that there are probably many reasons Apple hasn't activated FM capabilities. In the past, I have used the FM tuner on multiple other phones as well as the tuner built into some iPods. Often, to get a good signal, I would have to have wired headphones plugged in and if I was indoors I'd have to hold the cable away from my body to get a signal.

    There is probably some semblance of truth to the whole "disabled due to competition with Apple Music" ... but remember, the FM capability has been built into the iPhone chips for YEARS before Apple Music. So, I bet it has more to do with a good consumer experience than anything else.

    People in areas prone to natural disasters would likely welcome this as an emergency tool, and perhaps it could be hidden away in settings on the phone or something. But really, I doubt this will come to pass and I can understand why.
  20. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    An FM tuner chip is useless unless it can be connected to a suitable antenna. There is no headphone jack, and there may be no RF signal path from the Lightning jack, making any FM tuner circuit on the chip useless.
  21. Hodar1 macrumors member


    Nov 30, 2011
    In the middle of the Rocky Mountains, for now.
    Why would anyone argue against adding a FREE new feature, that cannot hurt, but can only help save lives?
    This feature ALREADY is built into every iPhone ever made, the impact on battery life should be minimal, as there is no transmission.
  22. Eso macrumors 68000


    Aug 14, 2008
    Or you could just buy an FM radio that will last for days on batteries, as opposed to using your phone which will last for hours.
  23. NinjaHERO macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2008
    U S of A
    Unless it kills the battery or some other such nonsense, seems silly to have it in my phone and not be able to use it. Hopefully they turn it on.
  24. mikeyteh macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2013
    They might be out of power for months, but let's turn on the FM tuner on the iPhones that don't have any battery charge or way to charge them.
  25. Ben2998 macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2015
    If I get this right, the FCC chairman is requesting Apple to enable an FM chip in their device to use a service under his jurisdiction that is in decline instead of forcing telcos under his jurisdiction to offer a service that would resist a hurricane.

    No agenda at all...

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