Though the iPhone includes FM radio chips, Apple hasn’t activated the feature, which would allow the smartphones to listen to FM radio. According to some critics, this puts lives in danger.
This hurricane season, ham radio operators often end up being the only existing news networks for reports from stricken islands and cities. Affected folks had to use FM radio to find out what to do and where to find help.
“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,” Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), told Bloomberg. “The notion that Apple or anyone else would block this type of information is something that we find fairly troubling.”
The NAB has been lobbying the industry for several years to allow phone users access to the FM radio feature. Manymanufacturers — including Samsung, LG, and Motorola —allow the use of the chip. Apple is the only major holdout, according to Wharton.
Critics say Apple doesn’t want to cannibalize its streaming service by giving iPhone owners access to free radio service over the airwaves. An Apple spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the company wouldn’t comment on the matter.