Apple’s FM radio stance is ‘blocking’ access to emergency broadcasts

UPDATE: In a statement obtained by iMore, Apple has said there are no FM radio chips in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models.

The 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,” Apple told iMore. “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.”

Original story continues below…

Apple has once again been urged to enable the FM radio transmitter in iPhone handsets following the spate of devastating hurricanes during the 2017 season.

The Intel and Qualcomm modems used for Wi-Fi and cellular are said to include an FM antenna, but Apple chooses not to enable the feature.

Now after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria tore through parts of the United States and the Caribbean, broadcasters are taking another opportunity to push Cupertino to rethink its stance.

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The National Association of Broadcasters says Apple’ decision is denying those in danger access to critical information during and after storms, when more modern communication methods are damaged.

“Broadcasters are providing information on how to evacuate quickly, where flood waters are raging, how to get out of harm’s way if there’s a tornado or a hurricane,” spokesman Dennis Wharton told Bloomberg (via MacRumors).

“The notion that Apple or anyone else would block this type of information is something that we find fairly troubling.”

Given Wi-Fi and cellular connections are often down for days, if not weeks, following a powerful storm, iPhone owners are unable to access radio through their smartphones.

Valuable

The call was echoed by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai who said an FM radio can help get emergency information to those in need.

He added: “The FM chip is a valuable functionality, not just when times are good or when it helps you save battery life or reduces congestion on the wireless network, but especially when it’s an emergency. People want to tune in to the radio broadcast and get emergency information and this can be a valuable way of doing that.”

Several iPod models have included FM radio functionally down the years, but Apple never enabled the feature on iPhone handsets.

Would you like to see Apple enable FM radio functionality on future iPhone handsets? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.