NAB calls for Apple to switch on an iPhone feature you didn’t know you had

“You probably didn’t know it, but there’s a FM radio inside your iPhone. It’s part of the wireless chip that provides the phone with WiFi and Bluetooth (the Murata 339S0228 chip, in the case of the iPhone 6),” Ben Lovejoy reports. “Apple has this functionality switched off, and the National Association of Broadcasters would like the company to switch it on, arguing that there are a number of benefits over streamed radio content.”

Lovejoy reports, “While NAB makes it sound like Apple could simply issue an iOS update to flick the switch, Reddit user theninjaseal says that it isn’t that simple. ‘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.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In related news, Western Union would like to have Apple initiate telegraphy service, too.

42 Comments

    1. Exactly.
      A year or so ago there was rumor of a patent/design that Apple owns that describes using an am/fm chip, not just fm.

      That would be perfect. Am/fm comes in handy where streaming can be hard to do. Sports games etc don’t stream without a paid sub… But they do play on local am/fm radio. (Which don’t stream that sports event if they normally stream their radio show)

    2. And, what about the pre-amp/LNA? That would still need to be added.

      Plus, what about those idiots who will initiate a multi billion dollar class actin suit against Apple for the functionality not working when the ear buds are not plugged in? A lot of people use their iPhones without ear buds. If Apple requires the use of ear buds for this functionality, you can guarantee some set of people (and ambulance chasing lawyers) will sue Apple for this discriminatory implementation.

    1. There are more people like me who aren’t listening to radio but instead stream the content they want when they want it. These spectrum allocations need to be freed up for digital streams and stop wasting our precious spectrum. Radio is so yesteryear.

      1. There is a thing called “HD Radio” that lots of cars have. It’s free, streaming, over-the-air digital radio. It splits a regular radio station into 3 separate channels and I guarantee you most of the radio stations in your area are already broadcasting in it. The federal government just needs to step in and mandate a changeover like they did with analog to digital television broadcasts.

      1. AM radio also had some stereo technology that was never really supported. Regardless, I, too, would like AM to be supported with FM. There are still stations not streaming adequately. Being able to receive OTA broadcasts allows us to stay in better touch with what’s local. I, too, really hope this can be pulled together on the iPhone. I’d be one to use it. It would also be good to offer it as a option with alarms—as a better clock radio function.

    2. My local station often has traffic or other updates worth tuning in to. I would not use it a lot but hey, turn it on if you can. Same with local ball games etc. The more function they can offer the better. If Apple wanted it to happen it would. MDN is off on this one. Personally I would like it as an option. It also lets me broadcast on my own FM channels with some content.

    1. Not a problem here in the Boston market- the FM landscape is rich, varied, and totally enjoyable. It is what I mostly listen to, actually, which is why I don’t need streaming services. But, yes, travel not that far away and suddenly radio really sucks. I can’t even imagine what radio below the Mason-Dixon is like. Tenth circle of hell for sure.

      1. Yes, down South here it is just like you imagine, shacks in the middle of cotton fields with a snake handling preacher who doubles as the disc jockey and farm report reader. Right.

        That actually would be a big improvement over the generic corporate radio formulas that are the same as everywhere in the country. I have listened to Boston radio. Didn’t seem much different than what I hear in the deep South, except for your lack of the blues, soul and gospel that fabulously dots the FM landscape in addition to the usual classical, jazz, and world stations.

  1. I’ve always known this existed, and wish that Apple would activate it; I’d use it sometimes. I had an old Nokia years ago with FM support that used the earbuds cable for the antenna, and came in very handy sometimes. Does not chew through your data plan!

  2. There is no revenue model in fm radio for apple to build off of. They would rather you buy and listen music or stream from any one of the streaming services for which they get a cut.

    1. Agreed. If Apple can’t make money from it, then there would be no sense in them enabling it. Practically everything Apple does when it comes to hardware is to make money from it. It’s all about profit margins which in Apple’s case, is extremely necessary. I personally would prefer a streaming station to FM, so I can perfectly understand Apple not bothering with some FM chip. Is FM even that prevalent everywhere?

  3. The argument of “radio for emergencies” forgets the fact that radio towers come down like sticks in a storm. It’s a last ditch effort by the NAB to make their ancient technology – and financial model – still relevant. Want a radio? Buy a radio for $10, don’t load up my iPhone.

    1. That ancient technology will transmit a signal much further than cell towers. When an EF-4 comes through and wipes the local cell towers off the map, that good old AM or FM station, who’s towers are as much as 50 to 70 miles away, can still broadcast emergency information that you can receive on a fairly simple, inexpensive device. No contract or subscription necessary. And being analog, you can still make out a weak signal, unlike digital, where dropped packets mean unintelligble robotic sounds. The chances of every broadcast station’s towers coming down in a storm is minimal. It might get one station, but not all of them.

      1. ^this.
        Studo8h doesn’t get it, nor do others that think AM/FM is a “dead” technology.

        WLW broadcast TO Germany during WWII… halfway around the world via AM.

    1. All my portable high-end cassette tape players had an FM radio. It made them “special.” Most of the time the FM sucked and this was in NYC. I suppose it was either the headphone antenna or atmospheric conditions that caused poor FM reception. Obviously some stations were better than others when it came to signal strength. Personally, I think Apple should stay away from FM because it’s not very good from my portable player experience.

  4. the murata chip is used, as is, in many mobile devices sold for the japanese market. using the earphones as the antenna, ability to listen to FM has been, and is, a marketed feature of most mobiles made for the japanese market.

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