FCC charmain Ajit Pai has called on Apple to activate the FM radio inside iPhones to help with relief efforts during natural disasters.
One form to ease the relief effort would be with a communication system, and that can be done with an FM radio. That is being done with many smartphones, but iPhone users are being excluded because the FM radio in them have been shut off by Apple.
Most smartphones made these days come with an FM radio built in, but manufacturers like Apple have chosen to turn it off. It has been speculated if customers have access to free FM radio, they will be less likely to pay for services like Apple Music, hurting the bottom line.
Carriers and phone manufacturers that enacted a similar tactic have changed their practice in recent times, giving customers access to the FM radio. But Apple is still one of the lone holdouts and FCC chairman Ajit Pai believes that needs to change.
“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,” Pai said of the matter. “I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones.”
When it came to urging Apple to activate the FM antenna in iPhones, Paid did not hold back.
“Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so,” he went on. “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. It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first.”
Pai has stated in the past he doesn’t believe the FCC should force companies to enable FM radios, but on this specific occasion, he is asking Apple to do so.
In a statement made to MacRumors, Apple commented to Ajit Pai’s call to action with a forceful response.
Here’s Apple complete statement:
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.
Apple points out its newer iPhones 7 and iPhone 8 don’t have FM radio chips and that it already offers many emergency services as safety solutions. Interestingly enough, Apple does not mention if older iPhones have the FM radio chip that can be activated. It does point out that without the proper antennas system, even if activated, FM signals would not be able to be received.