Apple is being asked by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in the U.S. to switch on FM radio functionality in the iPhone, arguing that the service serves a number of benefits when compared to streamed data-based radio content. While we’re at it, yes the iPhone has a dedicated chip for FM radio, but Apple has chosen to disable it.
For those unaware, Apple being Apple, has time and time again chosen to keep the FM feature disabled in their iPhone lineup. For example, the Murata 339S0228 chip in the iPhone 6 provides the device with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, and the FM radio is a part of it as well, but it’s disabled. NPR wants this chip to be turned on, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is backing NPR on this.
However, NPR and FEMA might be thinking that all Apple needs to do is push out a magical software update to have the radio up and running, but the reality is far from it. A Reddit user has explained that the chip alone – be it the highly compact Murata – will not suffice and additional hardware components will be required.
“What we’re missing is an appropriate antenna and an amplifier chip dedicated to driving that antenna. Unlike the murata chip that doesn’t take up any extra space, those things would take up extra space in the phone.”
While the antenna issue could be solved by using the headphone cable to act as an receptor as has been done by most smartphones, the additional components required will definitely add to the physical profile of the iPhone, something Apple will be pretty reluctant about.
According to NPR, access to FM radio broadcasts could help lower data costs for streaming radio content over the Internet, and will help sustain battery juice compared to solutions that drain battery almost five times faster than the FM radio chip. NPR has also suggested that the FM radio is “a critical resource in an emergency.”
FEMA meanwhile, cites the recent superstorm Sandy and how some emergency situations can overwhelm cellphone systems cutting off people from critical and much needed local news and alerts.
FM radio is definitely way past its prime as a medium for listening to music on, but there are still plenty of local radios providing news and alerts that are only passed on via FM radio.
What do you think?