FCC wants Apple to activate impossible FM radio on iPhone 8

If anyone has wanted to use FM radio on a cellphone, there are two things you need: receiving equipment in a chip and an aerial that will need to be larger than what the phone can contain. That usually means using the cans you’re plugging into the headphone jack.

As we all know, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 devices don’t have these holes. But as long as you have metallic connections and cabling — talk about dongles and whatnot — you should still get some waves coming in. But you have to have the chip.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai thinks that these phones have the chip and is painting Apple into a corner to turn it on in light of major public safety crises in hurricane-struck areas.

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. I applaud those
companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones.

He then admonishes Apple for resisting to do so, quoting the Sun Sentinel with, “Do the right thing, [Apple CEO Tim Cook]. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.”

In a statement to iMore, Apple responded:

Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. 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.

Even to a minuscule level, turning on or excluding radios can be a hardware decision. If there was an FM radio to turn on, it would have to go through interference testing with the other radios on board.

With cellular connections needing an immense backhaul from towers, having a user-end solution helps more than pasting aid after a disaster. Tools like goTenna and low-frequency FM radio would really help in getting a domestic intranet going on for crucial information before, during and after an event.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.