FM radio is a piece of dated technology that cellphone manufacturers still offer on most smartphones, but with the Apple iPhone, this is not the case. Now FCC chairman has urged Apple to enable FM radio on its iPhones but the device maker has a different perspective to offer.
The Power of a Low-Key Technology
FM radio is a factor of hardware of the chipset that resides on any device. With the help of FM radio, it is easier for emergency services to broadcast messages in public interest. But with Apple enjoying the majority of stake in the mobile market in the US, FCC has asked the device maker to enable the feature on the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement “In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States. And I’ve specifically pointed out the public safety benefits of doing so. In fact, in my first public speech, after I became Chairman, I observed that ‘[y]ou could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone.’
“Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That’s why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones”, Pai added.
Why Apple Cannot Have FM
Enabling FM radio on any smartphone is simple since the hardware is already there and since the headset works as the antenna, there is no major design change also required for the device. But for Apple, both things are a major challenge.
Firstly, Apple has no FM chip integrated on the devices that makes enabling this feature impossible. Secondly, even if there was that FM receiver the missing headphone jack would have created a big problem.
Apple has acknowledged the fact and released the following statement to iMore “Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products,” Apple told iMore. “Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.”
Well rest assured there will be no FM radio for the current set of devices at least, but looking at the pressure the device maker is going through its likely that the upcoming devices might give us a taste of that analog radio.