In the midst of terrible hurricanes occurring in the US, Apple is currently under fire for not activating the FM radio chip on iPhones. Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been constantly urging Apple to do the needful so that affected people can be aware and informed via broadcasts when cellular connectivity cannot be relied upon. Apple has replied saying that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 series do not have FM radio chips installed.
Apple‘s statement reads, “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.”
Although Apple has clarified that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 do not have FM radio chips installed, it hasn’t given an update on the older iPhones. Normally smartphones use wired earphones as antennas for FM radio. ArsTechnica suggests that the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 could be the reason behind this. however, it is also known that Intel and Qualcomm install FM tuners in their chipsets for Wi-Fi connectivity, but smartphone manufacturers manually disable it. Speculations suggest that doing so would drive customers to switch to paid subscription services such as the company’s own Apple Music for listening to music. ALSO READ: Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Hands-On and First Impressions: Incremental upgrades over the iPhone 7 duo
In Pai’s latest statement, he stressed on the need for people being informed through broadcasts and even singled out Apple. Pai said, “Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That’s why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones.”
While pressure is given on Apple, the company will possibly not be forced to do so going by Pai’s guidelines. Being a believer in free markets and law, Pai says that he “cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips”. This issue, he believes, can be best sorted out in the marketplace. ALSO READ: Apple transparency report: Requests for user data by Indian government on a rise