Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy, who forwards the following story from The Verge:
FCC chairman Ajit Pai wants Apple to turn on the FM radio that’s hidden inside of every iPhone. In a statement today, he asked that Apple “reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.” The FM radio, he said, can be used to receive “life-saving information” during disasters.
Apple said Pai’s request wasn’t possible for its newest phones. “iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. Apple seemed to indicate that it had no plans to enable FM radio on older phones either, saying that the iPhone already includes other safety features.
Most smartphones have an FM radio inside, and they have for a long time. Until recently, however, most of those radios were deactivated, so that owners couldn’t use them. There were a handful of reasons for this, but two of the more obvious ones were that if your phone receives FM radio, you’re going to be less likely to pay for music and extra wireless data — instead, you’d just tune into the radio for free.[…]
Dan notes: “The one false part of Apple’s response is about the antenna. Earbuds are used for the FM antenna in mobile phones. I use mine often when I travel.”
That’s correct, Dan–I use my Moto phone’s FM receiver a lot when travelling and, in fact, it requires earphones to operate. Some of the latest iPhones don’t even have earphone jacks, but most previous models did.
It’s too bad Apple won’t allow for the receiver to be unlocked in the models that do have FM radio. It’s such a great, accessible and free feature.
Thanks again for the tip, Dan!