Music may be mostly about on-demand streaming for most of us these days, but many people still have a fondness for FM radio. And now a new set of in-ear headphones bring that to the iPhone …

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Older iPhones do have an FM radio chip built into them, right up to the iPhone 6 – but Apple doesn’t enable the use of it.

Some have made calls for the company to do so. Radio broadcasters, FEMA and the FCC have all urged Apple to enable the FM functionality, for both entertainment and emergency purposes. However, although the capability is there in many iPhone radio chips, it would need a suitable antenna and amplifier chip to take advantage of it.

In more recent iPhones, there is no FM radio capability in the wireless chips to start with. 

Blackloud has solved the problem by building an FM receiver into its Soundot AF1 earbuds, with a companion app used to choose the station. They cost $79.89.

You connect the wired headphones to your iPhone via the Lightning port, with a USB-C model promised next year.

Blackloud’s SOUNDOT AF1 is an innovative in-ear headset for iOS Lightning devices, that provides the unique ability to access FM radio regardless of location, even without access to internet. The AF1 headset’s built-in FM receiver lets users tune directly into FM radio to listen to their favourite podcasts, talk shows, sports, music, weather and emergency broadcasts, without requiring internet connectivity (Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE) or an activated FM chip in the iOS device itself.

Listening to FM radio in real time via the built-in FM chip, rather than streaming it over the internet, has a number of benefits. It uses no mobile data, saves battery life, eliminates the delays inherent in streaming, and provides access to emergency information broadcast on FM during crises when connectivity fails.

Although pricy for a pair of wired earbuds, the FM capability is likely to be popular with sports fans, who often take a small radio to live sports events to listen to local radio station commentary. Simply carrying your iPhone and in-ear headphones is a far more convenient option.

The Soundot AF1 are available directly from the company’s website.

Via The Verge

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