New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

National Association of Broadcasters Again Urges Apple to Add FM Radio to iPhones

Following Apple's clarification that iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips or antennas designed to support FM signals, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has expressed some doubt about Apple's statement and has called on the company to add FM functionality to its future iPhones.

In a blog post, the NAB points to a series of iPhone 8 teardowns that indicate the iPhone 8 uses a Broadcom chip with an integrated FM radio core as evidence that Apple's devices already have some of the hardware required for FM radio support.


According to Apple, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8 do not currently have FM radio chips or antennas to support FM signals, and it is not clear how simple it would be for the company to add these features to future devices. From a statement made to MacRumors:
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.
The disagreement between Apple, the NAB, and the FCC is related somewhat to their various points of view. Apple’s claim that recent iPhones do not have the necessary hardware to support FM radio is indeed true, which means Apple can’t simply flip a software switch to activate it.

The NAB seems to be making the case that it would be relatively trivial for Apple to make hardware revisions to enable it in future devices considering the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip in the iPhone can support it and Apple has proven it can incorporate FM antenna connections in the iPod nano.
Apple has built and offered a wonderful FM app in their iPod Nano for many years. They know how to make FM work, and work well, in their mobile devices. Apple even wrote its own Nano app that allows the user to pause live radio and buffer up to 15 minutes of content.

However, Apple has specifically chosen not to offer this functionality in their iPhone. Indeed, Apple has disabled FM chips despite the capability being available on the communications module within the iPhone. This means other app developers cannot offer FM apps either.
In its blog post, the NAB appeals to Apple CEO Tim Cook, highlighting the number of hurricanes experienced in Mobile, Alabama, Cook's hometown, since 1969, and calling on the company to introduce FM support as a way for customers to get news alerts during disasters.

FM radio functionality in the iPhone first started gaining media attention last month, following a series of powerful hurricanes that struck several states. At that time, FCC chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement urging Apple to activate FM radio capabilities in its iPhones, which Apple later said was not possible.

"It's time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first," Pai wrote. "Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it."


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

11 months ago
Dear Ajit Pai,

The way you get companies to do things for the public good is to REGULATE THEM using YOUR GOVERNMENT-GRANTED POWER to do so. You are the head of the damn FCC, so if you want them to do it, make them! Groveling like a baby does not make companies do things voluntarily.

Signed,
The Taxpayers who want you to do your job and stop being an industry stooge.
Rating: 82 Votes
11 months ago
What about the phones not even having the necessary hardware and antennas do these people not understand?
Rating: 53 Votes
11 months ago
Dying industry wants disrupters to support their product.

Buggy whip manufacturer support group meets on Tuesdays.
Rating: 39 Votes
11 months ago
Obviously, Apple doesn't want to enable it worrying that it might drive some Apple Music subscribers away.
Rating: 28 Votes
11 months ago

Obviously, Apple doesn't want to enable it worrying that it might drive some Apple Music subscribers away.

This argument is old and tired. I use Google Play Music on my 8+ every day. There are plenty of alternatives to Apple Music and FM isn't one of them. Not because of the missing chip, but because FM sucks and cannot replace a paid streaming service.
Rating: 24 Votes
11 months ago
Apple should also make changes to their product, at their expense, to support my struggling industry too!
Rating: 22 Votes
11 months ago
Hell No!

The reason this is being promoted by the FCC is because the FCC is run by a right-wing corporatist, Ajit Pai, who's goal is to maximize profit for Clear Channel. It stopped being a public service a generation ago.

FM radio at this point is basically like your spam inbox, due to companies like Clear Channel. It has nothing to do with promoting the arts or informing the public. It's pure junk.

If you want it for emergency use, the cellular network is doing fine for that. That's why you had so many emergency text alerts during the hurricanes.

Get rid of FM radio, and use that bandwidth for enhanced cellular service that can reach into buildings.
Rating: 21 Votes
11 months ago

What about the phones not even having the necessary hardware and antennas do these people not understand?


They do understand it is not possible on current shipping products. What they want is Apple to install FM antennas on the next model of iPhone (and I guess iPad) going forward and then link them to the existing FM firmware in the Bluetooth/WiFi chipset Apple uses.
Rating: 21 Votes
11 months ago
The problem will be with the antennas. With the Nano (and likely the 6S and prior iPhones), the FM antenna was the headphone cord. Now that Apple has done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack, they would have to use one of the other internal antennas, which in terms of FM antenna size, is tiny (the longer the better).
Rating: 20 Votes
11 months ago
Ugh... flogging a dead horse - so typical of dying industries to pull out the *BUT SAFETY!!* card.

I haven't used FM radio *anywhere* for over 3 years. For those who desperately need it, what would you prefer - a wind-up FM receiver that can last for weeks without a charge... or a smart phone which will be flat in a day (assuming you've also lost power)?

Just because a chip from another manufacturer has a list of features, doesn't mean that the company that integrates it into their hardware ever wants to use them all. People are so stupid sometimes.
Rating: 19 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]