FCC chairman urges Apple to activate FM radios in iPhones in light of recent disasters [u]...

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  • Reply 21 of 153
    Okay, a qualifying natural disaster happens and voila! you can receive FM broadcasts on your phone...

    I think the difficult part would be after the smoke clears and the waters recede; when would Apple turn them off? And, what would the outcry be after Apple takes something away?

    Would the feature disappear after the next update?
  • Reply 22 of 153
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    Good enough reason for me
    What do you mean?

    Personally I'm fine with the FCC pointing out to Apple the public good benefits of Apple adding an FM feature to iPhones, but they should stop short of mandating it.  There are millions of things an iPhone could do based on the technology available that doesn't make it right for the government to mandate features.

    I agree. I really should be able to opt out of contributing to the 911 tax on my phone bill. If I need emergency help I can just call them directly. No need to support a calling feature I'm not planning to use. /s
    edited September 2017
  • Reply 23 of 153
    robjnrobjn Posts: 220member
    They make it sound like Apple just need to flip a switch.

    Not that simple. Apple could do it if there is not some kind of hardware problem such as fm radio interfering with other radios/sensors. But it’s more than flicking switch would require OS support and a way for developpers to access it and/or software support in Apple’s own music app.

    The government cannot compel a private company to build these systems but it would be a valuable emergency feature since in a worst case scenario where all internet and cell service is down, FM waves with potentially life saving information can still be broadcast in. This is way the emergency response teams in your neighborhood are armed with HAM radio operators. 
  • Reply 24 of 153
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    gutengel said:
    I still keep my iPod nano handy just in case I need radio access (its the only device at home with radio). I think it'd be handy if congress required companies to add/activate radio chips on the phones. Perhaps companies could also develop decentralize network communication features like Zello or Firechat. It's a shame Firechat is almost dead. I tried using the other day and recommended it to friends before Maria hit Puerto Rico, but now it doesn't work reliably like it used to...
    Well, let's hope that you can find your iPod nano when a disaster hits. Because, if the flood waters reach it before you do, or your house collapses on top of it before you can get to it, or a tornado or hurricane blow it away before you can get to it ...

    Emergency planning is all well and good. Living in Earthquake country, as well as in a tsunami prone area, I have several emergency packs stowed away. But depending on what happens or where I am at the moment disaster strikes, none of that may be of any use to me.

    The one thing I do know that I will have on me, is a waterproof iPhone. Not only that, but all my loved-ones will also have a water-proof iPhone on them as well. The cell towers may be down, and we may not be able to communicate with each other, but having a radio built-into the phone would be one more back-up to all the well laid plans we already have in place.
  • Reply 25 of 153
    gatorguy said:
    Good enough reason for me
    What do you mean?

    Personally I'm fine with the FCC pointing out to Apple the public good benefits of Apple adding an FM feature to iPhones, but they should stop short of mandating it.  There are millions of things an iPhone could do based on the technology available that doesn't make it right for the government to mandate features.

    From Apple's perspective I'm pretty sure they have already weighed the costs and benefits of supporting FM radio use and decided against it.  I expect that the costs of supporting the feature would easily outweigh the costs of implementing the feature.
    One assumption, and I'll emphasize that, is Apple prefers their users rely on pay-for-play services like Apple Music instead of free OTA FM.
    Apple allows apps like TuneIn and iHeart in the App Store. Last time I checked those apps don’t cost users anything.
    randominternetpersonjahbladedewmellama
  • Reply 26 of 153
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,833member
    A little real world analysis would conclude that having FM reception in the iPhone would have almost no impact on getting information to the public. One would have to believe that there are large enclaves of iPhone only users that would be cut off from the world. The reality is that, in almost all cases, there is not only someone nearby with an FM radio, but also likely someone nearby with a Android OS device which includes an FM radio, and you still have the charging issue. More to the point, top down communication is of little value compared to two way communication.

    A simple solution would be to provide hand crank/solar powered radios to local emergency services to distribute prior to such events. A better solution, would be those same radios, and strategically placed solar powered satcom devices providing telecom / wifi access and device charging, but of course, building these to mil spec, siting them,  and enlisting FEMA to manage them would cost money, and especially for Puerto Rico, our government really doesn't want to do that. 

    Maybe the FCC Chairman would do well just to provide basic and reliable internet to rural areas.

    This is horseshit.

    It really has more to do with providing a lifeline to the FM broadcast lobby than public safety. That doesn't mean that Apple shouldn't provide the antennas for FM reception, and allow people to use it, but it's no substitute for FEMA doing its job, for the FCC to provide basic internet to all, and the U.S. providing proper infrastructure to its citizens.

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/27/16374136/ajit-pai-fcc-net-neutrality-isp

    This guy shouldn't be in that job.
    edited September 2017 randominternetperson
  • Reply 27 of 153
    Ajit Pai speaking for the public good! Bull Shit! The guy is a shrill for the monopolistic media companies!
    tmay
  • Reply 28 of 153
    mac_128 said:
    Good enough reason for me
    What do you mean?

    Personally I'm fine with the FCC pointing out to Apple the public good benefits of Apple adding an FM feature to iPhones, but they should stop short of mandating it.  There are millions of things an iPhone could do based on the technology available that doesn't make it right for the government to mandate features.

    I agree. I really should be able to opt out of contributing to the 911 tax on my phone bill. If I need emergency help I can just call them directly. No need to support a calling feature I'm not planning to use. /s
    That's not even close to a good analogy.  We're not talking about whether consumers can opt out of something.  We're talking about the role of government in dictating product features.  If Samsung decides to implement a fire-starter feature in their phones (an an intentional feature, not what they did last year), do we want FEMA mandating that all phones must be able to light candles?  Or to be less speculative, what if Apple decided to remove the flashlight feature on iPhones?  Should some branch of the government mandate that they reinstate it in the name of safety?  Like I said before, it's fine that they make suggestions, but they should tread lightly when it comes to actual mandates.
    jahblade
  • Reply 29 of 153
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,904member
    mike1 said:
    Overly simplistic request to just activate it. Like Apple could push a software update to people with no wifi or cell coverage. Even if he means in the long term, there are several reasons apple may not want to...

    1. They would have to create an entire interface for the FM tuner that doesn't currently exist. In addition, they would need to optimize the performance of the stock FM tuner. Resources would need to be dedicated to this instead of something else.

    2. However, the most important reason would be because the user experience would absolutely suck. There is no FM antenna and therefore would be no reception. People would blame Apple when in reality they can have very little impact on the tuner performance. Just because the chip in the phone has an FM tuner, doesn't mean it's any good to begin with. The hardware would have to be designed to use a headphone (3.5mm or Lightning) as the antenna as it was in the old iPod.Just plugging in a wire does not make an antenna. Don't know how FM signals in particular hinder cell performance, but there is a lot of concern to minimize all Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) in the devices to maximize performance. So, again, hardware would likely need to be designed to implement an FM tuner.

    Not so simple. As others have noted, you can buy a transistor radio for $10 or less and for a few $$$ more, a radio with a hand-crank where batteries would not even be a concern.
    Speaking from recent experience I can say with certainty that having FM enabled on your smartphone is absolutely worthwhile in the event of a public emergency.

    With Hurricane Irma approaching early the next morning we lost power at around 11pm the prior evening. By midnight our internet service was also out. Within another hour or two cell service began failing, lost completely before daybreak. We were lucky having a whole house generator, but our neighbors, some of them quite elderly, not so much. There was no going outside to crank up even a standalone generator with debris flying through the air, blindingly heavy rain, wind gusts already exceeding 60mph. No power and no cell service in the dead of night is a bad thing...

    But those with emergency radios or smartphones with FM enabled, and a lot of folks have them, could still stay abreast of emergency alerts, tornado warnings, and the latest status on the hurricane itself. Almost every smartphone already has an FM radio built-in, tho Apple has chosen to disable theirs. Yes your iPhone already has FM capabilities. AFAICT it would not cost Apple anything more to leave it as a working chip rather than disabling it. This isn't a new issue but something that's been a problem for awhile.
    https://www.wired.com/2016/07/phones-fm-chips-radio-smartphone/

    ...and no you don't need an external antenna or even a pair of wired headphones to act as one. Nokia figured out how to do it 8 years ago.
    edited September 2017 StrangeDayssingularityGG1zoetmb
  • Reply 30 of 153
    If you live in a hurricane prone area, you should have a hand crank emergency weather radio. How would people in Puerto Rico be powering their iPhones to use as radios when they are mostly without any power anyway? These little radios can be had for like $20 now and they have flashlights, radios, can even crank to charge your smart phone. I guess Apple should also make a crank accessory? Pai is such an idiot.
    Agreed. I live in a hurricane prone area and have gone thru some. Cell phone is useless when the power is out for days on end. Hand crank radio worked perfectly. I’d rather save the limited phone power for texts, assuming towers online. 
    edited September 2017 jahbladepscooter63
  • Reply 31 of 153
    Seems more akin to closing the barn door after the horses have bolted, but as someone else has said, it diverts attention from the mess that is currently occupying the White House.
  • Reply 32 of 153
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    mac_128 said:
    Good enough reason for me
    What do you mean?

    Personally I'm fine with the FCC pointing out to Apple the public good benefits of Apple adding an FM feature to iPhones, but they should stop short of mandating it.  There are millions of things an iPhone could do based on the technology available that doesn't make it right for the government to mandate features.

    I agree. I really should be able to opt out of contributing to the 911 tax on my phone bill. If I need emergency help I can just call them directly. No need to support a calling feature I'm not planning to use. /s
    That's not even close to a good analogy.  We're not talking about whether consumers can opt out of something.  We're talking about the role of government in dictating product features.  If Samsung decides to implement a fire-starter feature in their phones (an an intentional feature, not what they did last year), do we want FEMA mandating that all phones must be able to light candles?  Or to be less speculative, what if Apple decided to remove the flashlight feature on iPhones?  Should some branch of the government mandate that they reinstate it in the name of safety?  Like I said before, it's fine that they make suggestions, but they should tread lightly when it comes to actual mandates.
    OK then, let's go back to the days before 911 was implemented. Put me in the column that says, I don't want the government to mandate an emergency service, just because the technology exists to implement it. It's the exact same argument. The government is imposing a rule on a commercial business to serve the public good, which the business then passes on to the consumer.  We're not really talking about built-in lighters -- we're talking about radios, something the product is designed to implement, and something which is already regulated by the FCC. If someone wants to buy a phone that also has a built-in lighter, then that's a choice, a choice that does not necessarily help everyone affected by an emergency, unlike spreading important information about surviving the disaster, like 'more bad weather on the way', or 'the dam broke, evacuate'.
    edited September 2017
  • Reply 33 of 153
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,904member
    sog35 said:
    gatorguy said:
    mike1 said:
    Overly simplistic request to just activate it. Like Apple could push a software update to people with no wifi or cell coverage. Even if he means in the long term, there are several reasons apple may not want to...

    1. They would have to create an entire interface for the FM tuner that doesn't currently exist. In addition, they would need to optimize the performance of the stock FM tuner. Resources would need to be dedicated to this instead of something else.

    2. However, the most important reason would be because the user experience would absolutely suck. There is no FM antenna and therefore would be no reception. People would blame Apple when in reality they can have very little impact on the tuner performance. Just because the chip in the phone has an FM tuner, doesn't mean it's any good to begin with. The hardware would have to be designed to use a headphone (3.5mm or Lightning) as the antenna as it was in the old iPod.Just plugging in a wire does not make an antenna. Don't know how FM signals in particular hinder cell performance, but there is a lot of concern to minimize all Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) in the devices to maximize performance. So, again, hardware would likely need to be designed to implement an FM tuner.

    Not so simple. As others have noted, you can buy a transistor radio for $10 or less and for a few $$$ more, a radio with a hand-crank where batteries would not even be a concern.
    Speaking from recent experience I can say with certainty that having FM enabled on your smartphone is absolutely worthwhile in the event of a public emergency.

    With Hurricane Irma approaching early the next morning we lost power at around 11pm the prior evening. By midnight our internet service was also out. Within another hour or two cell service began failing, lost completely before daybreak. We were lucky having a whole house generator, but our neighbors, some of them quite elderly, not so much. There was no going outside to crank up even a standalone generator with debris flying through the air, blindingly heavy rain, wind gusts already exceeding 60mph. No power and no cell service in the dead of night is a bad thing...

    But those with emergency radios or smartphones with FM enabled, and a lot of folks have them, could still stay abreast of emergency alerts, tornado warnings, and the latest status on the hurricane itself. Almost every smartphone already has an FM radio built-in, tho Apple has chosen to disable theirs. Yes your iPhone already has FM capabilities. AFAICT it would not cost Apple anything more to leave it as a working chip rather than disabling it. This isn't a new issue but something that's been a problem for awhile.
    https://www.wired.com/2016/07/phones-fm-chips-radio-smartphone/
    why wouldn't you have a crank FM radio with you the night before?  Its not like it was a surprise a  hurricane was coming. You a couple days notice it was likely to hit.
    You didn't actually read what I wrote did you? I had things covered, tho it's not cheap. 

    As far as "why wouldn't you buy a crank radio two days in advance": The shelves were emptied of them more than two days in advance. As were gas-cans. Generators. Outdoor extension cords. Batteries. Plywood. Water. Bread. Canned meats. Soups....

    But even without some emergency underway I've found myself out hiking in cell dead-zones where the ability to listen to FM if the clouds suddenly look a bit scary has definite value.

    Keep reading Sog, I'll bring you up to speed on why FM radio on a smartphone may have value. Heck, a few minutes ago you still thought a two foot antenna was needed...
    but you do realize that even for those that require something external plugging in a pair of wired headphones does the trick.
    edited September 2017
  • Reply 34 of 153
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,904member
    If you live in a hurricane prone area, you should have a hand crank emergency weather radio. How would people in Puerto Rico be powering their iPhones to use as radios when they are mostly without any power anyway? These little radios can be had for like $20 now and they have flashlights, radios, can even crank to charge your smart phone. I guess Apple should also make a crank accessory? Pai is such an idiot.
    Agreed. I live in a hurricane prone area and have gone thru some. Cell phone is useless when the power is out for days on end. Hand crank radio worked perfectly. I’d rather save the limited phone power for texts, assuming towers online. 
    I'm sure you figured out you can charge your phone from your vehicle. ;)
  • Reply 35 of 153
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,833member
    gatorguy said:
    If you live in a hurricane prone area, you should have a hand crank emergency weather radio. How would people in Puerto Rico be powering their iPhones to use as radios when they are mostly without any power anyway? These little radios can be had for like $20 now and they have flashlights, radios, can even crank to charge your smart phone. I guess Apple should also make a crank accessory? Pai is such an idiot.
    Agreed. I live in a hurricane prone area and have gone thru some. Cell phone is useless when the power is out for days on end. Hand crank radio worked perfectly. I’d rather save the limited phone power for texts, assuming towers online. 
    I'm sure you figured out you can charge your phone from your vehicle. ;)
    Well, if your vehicle isn't under water, which I'm guessing was a significant problem in Houston.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 36 of 153
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,904member
    tmay said:
    gatorguy said:
    If you live in a hurricane prone area, you should have a hand crank emergency weather radio. How would people in Puerto Rico be powering their iPhones to use as radios when they are mostly without any power anyway? These little radios can be had for like $20 now and they have flashlights, radios, can even crank to charge your smart phone. I guess Apple should also make a crank accessory? Pai is such an idiot.
    Agreed. I live in a hurricane prone area and have gone thru some. Cell phone is useless when the power is out for days on end. Hand crank radio worked perfectly. I’d rather save the limited phone power for texts, assuming towers online. 
    I'm sure you figured out you can charge your phone from your vehicle. ;)
    Well, if your vehicle isn't under water, which I'm guessing was a significant problem in Houston.
    ROFTL. Yes, that would be an issue. 
  • Reply 37 of 153
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    gatorguy said:
    If you live in a hurricane prone area, you should have a hand crank emergency weather radio. How would people in Puerto Rico be powering their iPhones to use as radios when they are mostly without any power anyway? These little radios can be had for like $20 now and they have flashlights, radios, can even crank to charge your smart phone. I guess Apple should also make a crank accessory? Pai is such an idiot.
    Agreed. I live in a hurricane prone area and have gone thru some. Cell phone is useless when the power is out for days on end. Hand crank radio worked perfectly. I’d rather save the limited phone power for texts, assuming towers online. 
    I'm sure you figured out you can charge your phone from your vehicle. ;)
    While I'm in complete agreement with you, the reality is that may not always be an option if your car is underwater. However, I think the point is that there will most likely be a way to charge your phone. Someone will have power, either a portable generator, a working car that can't go anywhere because of debris or damage, a solar panel, or a hand crank. The point is, people tend to help others in need, and people who are displaced will more than likely be able to charge their devices somewhere, and keep going -- emphasizing the importance of a ubiquitous multifunction device which people can carry with them, versus hauling around a lot of specialized emergency equipment.
  • Reply 38 of 153
    mac_128 said:
    mac_128 said:
    Good enough reason for me
    What do you mean?

    Personally I'm fine with the FCC pointing out to Apple the public good benefits of Apple adding an FM feature to iPhones, but they should stop short of mandating it.  There are millions of things an iPhone could do based on the technology available that doesn't make it right for the government to mandate features.

    I agree. I really should be able to opt out of contributing to the 911 tax on my phone bill. If I need emergency help I can just call them directly. No need to support a calling feature I'm not planning to use. /s
    That's not even close to a good analogy.  We're not talking about whether consumers can opt out of something.  We're talking about the role of government in dictating product features.  If Samsung decides to implement a fire-starter feature in their phones (an an intentional feature, not what they did last year), do we want FEMA mandating that all phones must be able to light candles?  Or to be less speculative, what if Apple decided to remove the flashlight feature on iPhones?  Should some branch of the government mandate that they reinstate it in the name of safety?  Like I said before, it's fine that they make suggestions, but they should tread lightly when it comes to actual mandates.
    OK then, let's go back to the days before 911 was implemented. Put me in the column that says, I don't want the government to mandate an emergency service, just because the technology exists to implement it. It's the exact same argument.
    You wouldn't want the government to mandate an emergency service?  Huh, I thought you'd be in the other column.

    Frankly, there are plenty of good, appropriate things that governments can/should/do mandate and there are plenty of stupid things that they mandate.  Let's just say that "all mobile phones must be able to receive and play FM broadcasts" wouldn't fit into the former category for me.
  • Reply 39 of 153
    nhtnht Posts: 4,494member
    gatorguy said:

    Speaking from recent experience I can say with certainty that having FM enabled on your smartphone is absolutely worthwhile in the event of a public emergency.

    With Hurricane Irma approaching early the next morning we lost power at around 11pm the prior evening. By midnight our internet service was also out. Within another hour or two cell service began failing, lost completely before daybreak. We were lucky having a whole house generator, but our neighbors, some of them quite elderly, not so much. There was no going outside to crank up even a standalone generator with debris flying through the air, blindingly heavy rain, wind gusts already exceeding 60mph. No power and no cell service in the dead of night is a bad thing...
    A whole house generator is about $2500+installation for a 10 KW genset.  That's 3.5 iPhones 8s for the generator...if you can afford an iPhone and live in a hurricane area you had the discretionary income to afford one over time.
    But those with emergency radios or smartphones with FM enabled, and a lot of folks have them, could still stay abreast of emergency alerts, tornado warnings, and the latest status on the hurricane itself. Almost every smartphone already has an FM radio built-in, tho Apple has chosen to disable theirs. Yes your iPhone already has FM capabilities. AFAICT it would not cost Apple anything more to leave it as a working chip rather than disabling it. 
    This is false.  Typically you use headphones as the antenna.  
  • Reply 40 of 153
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,904member
    mac_128 said:
    gatorguy said:
    If you live in a hurricane prone area, you should have a hand crank emergency weather radio. How would people in Puerto Rico be powering their iPhones to use as radios when they are mostly without any power anyway? These little radios can be had for like $20 now and they have flashlights, radios, can even crank to charge your smart phone. I guess Apple should also make a crank accessory? Pai is such an idiot.
    Agreed. I live in a hurricane prone area and have gone thru some. Cell phone is useless when the power is out for days on end. Hand crank radio worked perfectly. I’d rather save the limited phone power for texts, assuming towers online. 
    I'm sure you figured out you can charge your phone from your vehicle. ;)
    While I'm in complete agreement with you, the reality is that may not always be an option if your car is underwater. However, I think the point is that there will most likely be a way to charge your phone. Someone will have power, either a portable generator, a working car that can't go anywhere because of debris or damage, a solar panel, or a hand crank. The point is, people tend to help others in need, and people who are displaced will more than likely be able to charge their devices somewhere, and keep going -- emphasizing the importance of a ubiquitous multifunction device which people can carry with them, versus hauling around a lot of specialized emergency equipment.
    Yes many neighborhoods suddenly become bastions of friendliness and outreach from otherwise keep-to-themselves neighbors. I know those on my block including me were all too willing to share trailers, carts, chainsaws, cold water, and hot meals. Sometimes it takes a disaster to bring out the best.
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