The controversy is not new – we talked about it here on the website in February, when the FCC president suggested activation of FM radio receivers built into iPhones.
His claim revolves around many smartphones being able to receive FM radio broadcasts through receivers built into their LTE modems – but for some reason, operators and manufacturers prefer to keep this feature disabled, leaving only the option of listening radio via streaming (online). In season, Ajit Pai commented there is a range of benefits in activating the receivers, such as saving both battery and cell phone data, as well as being able to use them in emergency situations when there is no operator / internet signal.
This week, due to the passages of the holes Harvey, Irma and Maria (which devastated Puerto Rico and parts of Texas and Florida), the executive hit that button again, practically begging the Apple to activate the FM radio function on iPhones dropping a software update to the devices.
Does the appeal make sense? Does. Much. THE Bloomberg reported, for example, that DJ Nio Fernandez broadcast information about Hurricane Irma for 19 hours straight, in Spanish, at the Maxima radio studios (92.5) in St. Petersburg (Florida), in order to keep people arrested in their homes – and without electricity or operator / internet signal – properly updated on local conditions. That is, in this case, the radio was the only form of communication available for you to stay on top of the events around you.
Apple, engaged as it is [1, 2, 3], you couldn’t deny something so easy when you release an update to help thousands / millions of people in a time like this, right? But not quite…
The company gave the following statement to the iMore:
Apple is deeply concerned about the safety of our users, especially in times of crisis, which is why we create modern security solutions in our products. Users can dial emergency services and access medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we have enabled government emergency notifications, ranging from weather warnings to AMBER alerts. Models 7 and 8 iPhones do not have FM radio chips or antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception on these products.
That answer, by itself, already ends the idea of Pai for the simple fact of being the company’s latest smartphones. However, Rene Ritchie, editor of iMore, raised other important issues involving this simple release of an update to activate FM radio broadcast on older iPhones.
Even if it were possible to simply turn on a switch and activate the feature, there is a lot to consider such as: these chips may not be connected in such a way that FM radio transmission is possible; if they are, such a change would likely require an update to the firmware wireless chipset. Taking into account that this could even be done, the radio functionality would have to undergo several tests in order to ensure that it did not interfere with cell reception, Wi-Fi signal, Bluetooth and NFC. Then, yes, after this whole process, we could see an update focused on the feature being released for iPhones.
That’s right, iPhones; because, if we analyze the Android scenario, the difficulties would be even greater. Something that for Apple is “simple” (a software update release) firmware) is very complicated for manufacturers in the Android world. In short, they depend directly on partners such as Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel or some other company responsible for the chip itself for this update to be made, as well as operators around the world for updates to be made available to users.
Another option would be, in a moment of desperation like this, to connect an accessory with an antenna to receive FM signals. But even that is currently complicated when we are talking about smartphones such as iPhone, Pixel 2 (which will be released next week), Essential and others that no longer have the 3.5mm audio output (it was for her that these accessories are connected easily).
Which is possible, is – not in the new devices, as Apple has made very clear. But it is definitely not as trivial as we imagined …