NAB calls for activation of iPhone FM radio feature Apple says does not exist

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2017
Less than a month after U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai called on Apple to activate FM radio functionality in its iPhone devices, the National Association of Broadcasters on Wednesday issued a similar call to action, saying the company could easily integrate such features if it so desired.


iPhone 8 teardown by iFixit.


In a post to NAB's official blog, the group plays on recent natural disasters and national emergencies, from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to wildfires in California, to bolster its argument. During these and other events, citizens who greatly rely on their smartphones are often left without cellular service, underscoring the need for redundant communications, NAB says.

While certain smartphone manufacturers integrate FM radio functionality into their devices, Apple does not, presumably putting iPhone users at a disadvantage. In the wake of Irma, government leaders called on tech companies -- Apple in particular -- to activate FM chips that supposedly lie dormant in existing hardware in a bid to promote public safety.

The issue was brought to the fore last month when Pai singled Apple as the "one major phone manufacturer" who has resisted activating embedded FM chips.

"When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information," Pai said. "I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones."

For its part, Apple has gone on record as saying iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 do not include FM radio chips or antennas designed to support FM signals. As such, it is not possible for the handsets to receive FM signals. SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller reiterated the sentiment in a tweet late last month.

Apple's response has not dissuaded the FCC, NAB and others who believe it is well within the company's power to activate FM components not only in past iPhone models, but current versions as well. Citing a number of iPhone 8 teardowns, NAB in its blog post claims Apple deliberately disables the FM core integrated into Broadcom's communications package.

Further, NAB says Apple "does not connect" antenna leads that would provide an onboard communications module the ability to receive FM radio signals. Manufacturers that do offer FM radio functionality typically piggyback signals on headphone wires running into the 3.5mm jack, a component no longer offered on iPhone. In order to supply Broadcom's chip with the requisite FM signals, Apple would need to rework iPhone's internal design and existing antenna structure or jerry-rig an aftermarket fix.

NAB points out that past Apple products, like the discontinued iPod nano, offered an FM tuner features to users, including a first-party app that paused live radio. That same technology can and should be applied to iPhone, NAB says.

Beyond benefits for natural disaster survivors, FM radio integration would be a boon for radio broadcasters feeling the pinch from user migration to online streaming services. An expansion of the FM market to iPhone, and other smartphones, would mean a healthy boost to terrestrial radio.

Today's statement recalls a more forceful attempt to legally mandate FM radio chips be included in smartphones and other devices. The 2010 proposal, supported by NAB, the RIAA and other industry groups, ultimately failed.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66
    Another attempt to outsmart Darwin... or maybe common sense.
    mike1netmage
  • Reply 2 of 66
    Play the game Pai, act like you care.  Does government suck ethics and morals out of everyone?

    Draw attention to this silly little issue while you destroy net neutrality, like the wizard behind the curtain that you are.  Money may not buy you happiness, but it will buy you political leverage.

    Radio towers are just as susceptible to damage as cellular, but let’s not fix our modern warning system and communication system.  Furthermore, let’s keep putting band aids on real problems and living below sea level.  Common sense basics should be taught in school over government, we see where that got us as a nation.

    Ha
    MacProktappelostkiwicharlesgresradarthekatwilliamlondonmrboba1longpathstevenozStrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 66
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 269member
    ...whatever
  • Reply 4 of 66
    Morons.

    The port to plug in the antenna no longer exists.  If someone wants to create an aftermarket product they are free to do so.  The fact is the demand from such a product doesn’t exist.  And, a separate device with a hand crank is more practical.

    But let’s have fun with this...

    These people that are bitching are a

    fool, idiot, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, clod...

    And most likely a
     technophobe, Luddite...
     
    mike1netmagelongpathjbdragonanton zuykov
  • Reply 5 of 66
    TomETomE Posts: 139member
    Just Repair the Cell Towers or install temporary Cell Towers.  AT&T , etc. do it all the time in an emergency.
    jd_in_sblostkiwiradarthekatnetmagejony0
  • Reply 6 of 66
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,959member
    Instead of FM, everyone should ask Apple to add a feature in Settings call iClean or iClean User Credentials or whatever you want to name. What it does is, It totally removes any association/reference of the device from current and any prior ownership. Means, it removes references from everywhere, iCloud, passcode/touchid, iTune login,manage applid from authentication server and than resets it. It still asks for current user's appleid/password to initiate the feature. But at the end, you can hand over the iDevice to a new owner in a state like when the device was brand new. In Android world, the cleanup of device is so simple. This feature does not compromise any security protection in place. But, Apple will not provide such feature. Apple wants your device to get into activation lock, abandon it and force you to buy new one. It's call civilized extortion..
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 7 of 66
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,088member
    Let’s see now. NAB stands for National Association of Broadcasters, the very people who represent the owners of FM radio stations. Nah, they wouldn’t have a vested interest in seeing that FM radio is kept relevant and promoted... would they? Nope, they are as pure as the new fallen snow in their altruism. 
    deepinsiderMacProlollivertallest skilwatto_cobralostkiwiradarthekatwilliamlondonrandominternetpersonnetmage
  • Reply 8 of 66
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,088member

    Beyond benefits for natural disaster survivors, FM radio integration would be a boon for radio broadcasters feeling the pinch from user migration to online streaming services. An expansion of the FM market to iPhone, and other smartphones, would mean a healthy boost to terrestrial radio.

    Trying to protect their turf, eh? Remember when they wanted to tax blank VHS tapes? 
    watto_cobralostkiwiradarthekatlongpathjbdragonretrogustojony0
  • Reply 9 of 66
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,088member
    Now watch some law firm file a class action suit because the plaintiffs couldn’t tune in FM radio on their iPhones in an emergency. Don’t laugh. In this day and age anything is possible.
    lostkiwifotoformatwilliamlondonlongpathjbdragonjony0
  • Reply 10 of 66
    While we’re at it, why not require all TV makers to include rabbit ears, and all car makers to include an 8-track deck?
    lollivercaliwatto_cobramike1longpathjdgazjbdragonjony0
  • Reply 11 of 66
    If you want FM radio, buy an FM radio.
    calilostkiwiwilliamlondonhammerd2mike1randominternetpersonlongpathstompyjony0
  • Reply 12 of 66
    Why don’t we instead transition FM frequency to enhance the cellular network. You can broadcast on the internet!

    Curious - how many lives were saved due to FM info? 
    randominternetpersonlongpath
  • Reply 13 of 66
    The iPod nano used the 3.5mm jack based earphones as the antenna. The iPhone literally has no 3.5mm port, nor any internal connection to facilitate this. Plus smartphones don't last long enough to be useful FM receivers, this whole thing is stupid.
    wg45678caliwatto_cobralostkiwiwilliamlondonnetmage
  • Reply 14 of 66
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,544member
    It is not surprising that the Association of FM and AM broadcasters would like to see more FM radio in smartphones, even though every single one of their members (without exception) can be listened to online. it is also not surprising that said NAB would conveniently ignore the fact that in the last couple of disasters (barring Puerto Rico), the cell towers largely stayed functional while the FM stations when down like AAPL after a record quarter. There's one FM station I listen to online (since I don't live there anymore) that is *still* not back on broadcast yet. What is surprising is the apparent complete lack of any technical knowledge evidenced by the NAB's nonsensical nattering, As the article points out, you can magically invent antennas that weren't included, or FM chips that aren't even present. You'd think the NAB, which as mentioned has members who's transmitting antenna were wrecked by storms, would know this -- but apparently not. They might as well demand that Apple "flip the switch" on the "hidden" dot-matrix printer inside every iPhone so we could print our own receipts every time we used Apple Pay. There's no switch to flip, fellas, and the components just ain't there (and haven't been for years now).
    watto_cobralostkiwiradarthekatwilliamlondonnetmagelongpathstompyjony0
  • Reply 15 of 66
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,249member
    What about AM radio eh? /s
    watto_cobralostkiwilongpath
  • Reply 16 of 66
    I have a transistor radio in the storage. Never used it except to check it’s working. NAB and Pai is causing additional and unnecessary cost to buy an iPhone. Transistor radios are basically free and being given away to those who wants them. 
    watto_cobralongpath
  • Reply 17 of 66
    Morons.

    The port to plug in the antenna no longer exists.  If someone wants to create an aftermarket product they are free to do so.  The fact is the demand from such a product doesn’t exist.  And, a separate device with a hand crank is more practical.

    But let’s have fun with this...

    These people that are bitching are a

    fool, idiot, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, clod...

    And most likely a
     technophobe, Luddite...
     
    Amazon sells some nice all-in-one disaster radios with multiple radio bands, waterproof, flashlight-equipped, hand-crankable (to even charge smartphones and other devices) and even some with solar panels built-in. I think everyone should keep a device like that around for emergencies, especially if you live in places that are prone to flooding or hurricanes. They'll come in handy and they'll be more useful than some smartphone with a built-in FM radio. They should urge all homes to be equipped with such an emergency item. Going after Apple in this case seems rather an unfair bias. Not even all Android smartphones have FM radios. It would be better to just keep a small battery-powered FM radio in the house.
    calistompystevenoz
  • Reply 18 of 66
    wood1208 said:
    Instead of FM, everyone should ask Apple to add a feature in Settings call iClean or iClean User Credentials or whatever you want to name. What it does is, It totally removes any association/reference of the device from current and any prior ownership. Means, it removes references from everywhere, iCloud, passcode/touchid, iTune login,manage applid from authentication server and than resets it. It still asks for current user's appleid/password to initiate the feature.
    ...
    But, Apple will not provide such feature.
    Wow, you are way off topic. But, unless I’m not following you, this is absolutely possible. Go into Setting>your name>iCloud>Find My iPhone and turn off FMi. This requires your AppleID password. Back out to the top level of Settings, go to General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings (you may need to enter your passcode). Viola! You’re done. Hand the iPhone (or whatever iOS device) to its new owner and they will have no issues. 

    Back on topic, occasionally I hear people mention how great it would be to be able to listen to “live radio” on a phone. Personally I don’t see the appeal. I feel like it’s a feature that would be used as much as having a TV tuner so we could watch local stations. Again, no thanks. As mentioned above, how many people did FM radio help during these recent natural disasters?

    But overall, whatever. If Apple decides to add an FM tuner to my next iPhone will it negatively affect me? Likely not. And it doesn’t mean I have to use it. 
    caliAnilu_777randominternetpersonnetmagelongpath
  • Reply 19 of 66
    jonrojonro Posts: 48member
    If you need an FM radio for emergencies, you can buy one on eBay for as low as $1.00, including shipping. Or sit in your car and listen to it there. 
    radarthekatlongpathStrangeDays
  • Reply 20 of 66
    What did these people study in school? Political Science? It is like National Restaurant Association asking all French Restaurants to serve "French Fries" Besides, if the cell towers were destroyed, it is likely FM radio towers were destroyed or without power. Instead of adding component in a phone that you won't need 99% of the time, just buy an emergency radio.
    netmagelongpath
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