FCC head claims lives would’ve been saved during hurricanes, if Apple activated the FM chips on its iPhones

- Adrian Ungureanu

There’s a big controversy in the US right now, as FCC and Apple argues over FM radio features on iPhones, after the latest weather disasters in the country.

The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai asked Apple to activate the FM chips inside iPhone so that victims of national disasters have access to information when cellular service is down.

“Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted [activating the FM chips in their phones],” Pai said. “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. As the Sun Sentinel of South Florida put it, <<Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.>>”

It’s expected that the FCC head would know what the iPhones have on board or don’t have taking in consideration all the documentation Apple has to file for every iPhone it wants to sell.

Apple, unsurprisingly, fired back, explaining that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not even have FM chips.

“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 TechCrunch.

“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.”

As for older iPhone models, while they may have FM chips inside, they’re not connected, and they have no antennas to support them. Apple never wanted them to work as FM radios, and if the parts are inside the phone, that’s because they were included in the older chips that handle wireless communication.

We tend to think that Apple wouldn’t lie about not having FM chips on its smartphones as FCC could prove it with official documents that ar used by Apple to get certification. Most likely Ajit Pai made those statments before doing his homework. The FCC charmain hasn’t reacted to Apple’s response yet.