FM broadcasting Stories April 20, 2015

National Association of Broadcasters calls for Apple to switch on the iPhone feature you didn’t know you had

You probably didn’t know it, but there’s a FM radio inside your iPhone. It’s part of the wireless chip that provides the phone with WiFi and Bluetooth (the Murata 339S0228 chip, in the case of the iPhone 6). Apple has this functionality switched off, and the National Association of Broadcasters would like the company to switch it on, arguing that there are a number of benefits over streamed radio content.

Users could avoid expensive data charges and save battery life if they listen to the FM chip for free. Listening to streaming drains your battery three to five times faster than listening to the exact same content on the FM chip [and] it’s a critical resource in an emergency.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate agrees, reports NPR, saying that major emergencies like Superstorm Sandy can overwhelm cellphone systems, leaving users unable to receive emergency information.

While NAB makes it sound like Apple could simply issue an iOS update to flick the switch, Reddit user theninjaseal says that it isn’t that simple.

What we’re missing is an appropriate antenna and an amplifier chip dedicated to driving that antenna. Unlike the murata chip that doesn’t take up any extra space, those things would take up extra space in the phone.

However, a headphone cable could potentially act as the antenna, and YouTube user Gerald Alanis has successfully accessed the chip on a rooted Android phone.

But there are a lot of other concerns like interference and more realistically adding the type of hardware that would give an Apple-like sound quality might make the phone a lot bigger than Apple wants it to be.

The call may be a little late, coming the week that the first country has announced that it will be switching off FM broadcasts from 2017, as Norway reports that listeners have switched to DAB and online streaming.

Is FM radio a function you’d ever be likely to use if it were available on the iPhone? Let us know your views in the comments.

FM broadcasting Stories September 16, 2013

Nokia’s new camera-phones cost the same $29 as Apple’s iPhone 5c ‘Crocs’ CASE

While everyone was expecting Apple to introduce its new colourful iPhone 5c as a “lower-cost” option, Nokia today announced a truly low-cost device with its new $29 Nokia 108.

Compare that with the $29 Apple is charging for just the case-the one no one seems to like— for its low-cost offering. iLounge got theirs a little early and described it:

The silicone rubber case is lined with microfiber on the inside, and includes Sleep/Wake and volume button protection. It’s quite light, with the empty space left by a 5 x 7 grid of 5/16″ holes helping to keep the weight down, while also oddly exposing only portions of the iPhone 5c’s rear labeling.

Nokia’s camera phone does calls, text, video capture, and also includes an up to 32GB of memory, an MP3 player, FM radio, Snake the game, and battery life up to 31 days on standby. It also has colourful red, white, black, yellow and cyan back plates that can be removed and swapped for other colors.

As Benedict Evan’s wrote a few days ago, the disparity in what Apple and Nokia can get for their wares is quite striking.

FM broadcasting Stories July 25, 2012

Broadcom just announced its next round of portable device wireless chip, the BCM4335, which includes the ability to connect to the superfast 802.11ac networks. Apple exclusively uses Broadcom chips in this family for its iOS devices (and a different family for its Macs). The current iPad and iPhone use the Broadcom BCM4330 802.11a/b/g/n baseband/radio with integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS and an FM transceiver—and the xxx5 is just a minor step up.

We found some code that indicates the next iPhone will use the Broadcom BCM4334, which adds the 40nm process and Wi-Fi Direct capabilities (perhaps opening some Airdrop capabilities too).

The 40nm chip will continue to deliver Bluetooth 4.0 and FM, but its 802.11ac networking could save some power using the new standard. It also features the “industry’s most advanced idle power consumption performance, which significantly extends a mobile device’s battery life.”

Sample chips are already available with a full production expected to be delivered in Q1 2013, just in time for next year’s iPads.

The press release follows: expand full story

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