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posted by janrinok on Thursday January 11 2018, @03:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-a-bit-unlocked dept.

Samsung says it will be unlocking the FM chips in its future smartphones:

Samsung and NextRadio on Wednesday announced the handset-maker will begin shipping phones in the US and Canada with the FM radio chip unlocked. Currently, Samsung was shipping some devices with the FM radio access unlocked, while others (often dependent upon carrier whims) had a locked FM radio chip.

An unlocked FM radio chip in a smartphone not only provides free access to local radio stations, but also, in emergency situations, access to important information.

What is NextRadio?

Emmis Communications is an American media conglomerate based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company owns radio stations and magazines in the United States and Slovakia.

[...] The NextRadio smartphone app was developed by Emmis, with support from the National Association of Broadcasters, to take advantage of mobile devices with activated internal FM receivers. NextRadio allows users of select FM-enabled smartphones to listen to live broadcast FM radio while receiving supplemental data such as album art, program information, and metadata over the internet. Launched in August 2013 through a radio industry agreement with Sprint Corporation, the app is available preloaded on select devices it is also available for download in the Google Play Store.

Do you need to use their app to access the FM chip? The press release says:

Market leaders like Samsung are taking the step of unlocking the FM Chip, which will allow Samsung users to connect directly with the NextRadio app, listen to their favorite local stations, and use less battery and less data than streaming radio apps.

Take "unlocked" with a grain of salt.

Previously: FCC Chairman Encourages Activation of FM Chips in Smartphones
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Calls on Apple to Activate Imaginary FM Chips

Related: Smartphone with FM Radio Tells Your Position
Developers Working to Get FM Radio Function Enabled in BQ Ubuntu Phones
Norway to Become 1st Country to Switch Off FM Radio


Original Submission

Related Stories

Smartphone with FM Radio Tells Your Position 32 comments

The reason why FM receivers are present on smartphones is that they can be used to locate your position by noting a simple thing as signal strength of transmitters. More advanced methods makes use of SNR, frequency deviation and multipath interference characteristics. And the same method can be used for WiFi which of course makes collection of such data very useful for localization purposes where GPS etc isn't useful. Arrival time of a radio signal that is reported to the operator from many devices may also be used for the same purpose.

Developers Working to Get FM Radio Function Enabled in BQ Ubuntu Phones 31 comments

Silviu Stahie reports via Softpedia

Many of the new SoC solutions [...] have FM Radio functionalities, but Google doesn't provide any kind of API for Android devices. It's basically just something that some companies could implement if they had the time or the drive to do it properly.

[...] Most [...] things are usually difficult when [they haven't] been done before. It's true that Radio FM functions have been available on older devices, but modern devices are not doing it, so there is little to no documentation on how to proceed.

A developer from the community is now working to get this function working on Ubuntu phones, and he's already enlisted the help of the Ubuntu developers. As it turns out, this has been talked about before, but for now, it's not a high priority.

Some of the Ubuntu phones, like the two BQ devices that are now available on the market, have Mediatek hardware and they are capable for[sic] Radio FM functions--at least in theory. What's more interesting, is that they should also be able to transmit, not only to receive.

"MediaTek (Aquaris E4.5 and E5) decided to implement custom kernel drivers with a custom character device (/dev/fm) and custom ioctl commands. There seem to be userspace libraries (libfm*) including a JNI wrapper in /system/lib of the Android container on our Ubuntu phones", developer sturmflut wrote on the official mailing list.

The ideal situation would be to allow users to initialize and tune the FM radio on the Aquaris E4.5 and E5 devices and to link this functionality to the media hub. It will take a while, but it's quite possible that FM Radio will be one of the numerous features that you can only find in Ubuntu phones.

Last Summer, Jack Wallen at TechRepublic reported:

[More after the break.]

Norway to Become 1st Country to Switch Off FM Radio 36 comments

Norway is set to become the first nation to start switching off its FM radio network next week, in a risky and unpopular leap to digital technology that will be closely watched by other countries considering whether to follow suit.

Critics say the government is rushing the move and many people may miss warnings on emergencies that have until now been broadcast via the radio. Of particular concern are the two million cars on Norway's roads that are not equipped with digital audio broadcasting (DAB) receivers, they say.

Sixty-six per cent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, with just 17 per cent in favour and the rest undecided, according to an opinion poll published by the daily Dagbladet last month.

Nevertheless, parliament gave the final go-ahead for the move last month, swayed by the fact that digital networks can carry more radio channels.

Should there be a push to switch off FM radio in order to 'persuade' users to upgrade their receiving equipment? Or should the change be implemented much more slowly to enable FM radios to be replaced as they age? How would you do it?


Original Submission

FCC Chairman Encourages Activation of FM Chips in Smartphones 39 comments

In a speech given to the Future of Radio and Audio Symposium (PDF), Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai encouraged smartphone makers to activate FM radio chips, but stopped short of supporting a government mandate to do so:

As you know, the vast majority of smartphones sold in the United States do, in fact, contain FM chips. The problem is that most of them aren't activated. As of last fall, only about 44% of the topselling smartphones in the United States have activated FM chips, and the percentage is lower in Canada. By comparison, in Mexico that number is about 80%. So it's not just that the United States and Canada could be doing better. We could be doing a lot better. It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don't enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman.

You could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone. The former head of our Federal Emergency Management Administration has spoken out in support of this proposal. The FCC has an expert advisory panel on public safety issues that has also advocated enabling FM radio chips on smartphones. It pointed out that, "[h]aving access to terrestrial FM radio broadcasts, as opposed to streaming audio services, may enable smartphone users to receive broadcast-based EAS alerts and other vital information in emergency situations—particularly when the wireless network is down or overloaded."

Moreover, most consumers would love to access some of their favorite content over-the-air, while using one-sixth of the battery life and less data. As more and more Americans use activated FM chips in their smartphones, consumer demand for smartphones with activated FM chips should continue to increase.

I'll keep speaking out about the benefits of activating FM chips. Having said that, as a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips. I don't believe the FCC has the power to issue a mandate like that, and more generally I believe it's best to sort this issue out in the marketplace. For despite the low numbers, we are seeing progress; in the last two years, the percentage of top-selling smartphones in the United States that have activated FM chips has risen from less than 25% to 44%.

Reported at Chicago Tribune and Recode.


Original Submission

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Calls on Apple to Activate Imaginary FM Chips 28 comments

Apple would like to remind the FCC that it can't activate imaginary FM radios that iPhones don't have

Apple responded today to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who issued a statement that "urged" Apple to activate the FM chips that he claimed are in iPhones in the name of public safety. The recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were the hook for the reasoning. The only problem? Apple hasn't even included FM radio chips in iPhones since the iPhone 6s.

That's right, Pai called on Apple to activate radios that don't even exist.

As John Gruber astutely points out, the statement has the stink of trying to shift blame or attention off of the FCC's own response and readiness issues. Pai has been banging the drum for months now and it's been a talking point of the NAB for years. When ostensibly asked for comment by Bloomberg, National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton said "The notion that Apple or anyone else would block this type of information is something that we find fairly troubling." Again, the radios do not exist in iPhones and haven't for over a year now.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @04:12PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @04:12PM (#620960)

    Your not sending data over FM right now but you probably should be, so backdoor NSA, FBI, FSB etc... Welcome to no security WIFI

  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday January 11 2018, @05:09PM (2 children)

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday January 11 2018, @05:09PM (#620982) Homepage Journal

    Not anymore

    --
    Troll of the Century [warplife.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @06:23PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @06:23PM (#621013)

      hi--it's me the "elephant". Apple has such minute control over SoC's and other hardware that this is probably true. All the android players just throw everything in there--FM, temperature, barometer, some others. No "apps" though.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday January 11 2018, @10:11PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 11 2018, @10:11PM (#621135) Journal

        Actually apple used a common chip, (wifi, bluetooth. and FM in one) and simply failed to solder one pin to the FM had no functionality. (I believe it was the antenna pin).

        Then when people bitched, Apple true to form fixed it so they couldn't bitch any more by finding a cheaper chip which didn't have the FM radio capability at all.

        (Some doubt it was any cheaper, it was just Steve Jobs getting pissed.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bob_super on Thursday January 11 2018, @05:54PM (5 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday January 11 2018, @05:54PM (#621000)

    > Take "unlocked" with a grain of salt.

    Shouldn't take too long before someone reverse-engineers the enable, and provides a simple FM app with no useless bells and whistles (not that I plan to buy an S9).

    I don't know if millennials do fall for it, or it's just wishful thinking from marketing guys who need to justify their jobs, but really, can we get back to having software that just does one simple thing (listen to FM, with a simple frequency and volume control), without needing to pretend people would like to connect it to twitfacegram ?

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @07:25PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @07:25PM (#621050)

      can we get back to having software that just does one simple thing (listen to FM, with a simple frequency and volume control), without needing to pretend people would like to connect it to twitfacegram

      Interestingly enough, my unlocked Moto E4, which I bought last August before all the disasters and calls for "please unlock the fm chips you already have in these devices" actually came with an FM chip, that FM chip was unlocked, and Motorola included an app to receive FM radio as part of the phone's OS.

      And the app is just what you describe. You can tune to a frequency, you can adjust the playback volume, and it does not need, nor care about, connecting to twitfacegram (it in fact does not need any data connection to receive FM)

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @09:12PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @09:12PM (#621089)

        FFS, my WINDOWS PHONE came with a functional fm chip and app for it.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:40AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:40AM (#621307)

          Shouldn't surprise anyone. It probably also came with a "when to feed your horse" reminder app...

      • (Score: 2) by dry on Friday January 12 2018, @01:35AM (1 child)

        by dry (223) on Friday January 12 2018, @01:35AM (#621219)

        Same here with an older Moto E. Simple app that plays the radio, remembers stations and allows recording. Does bitch if you don't plug in the headphones though.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @09:24PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @09:24PM (#621567)

          The N900 also has an FM tuner, it used the headphone cable as the antenna and won't function without it.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @06:23PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @06:23PM (#621012)

    "KBOOM radio, a blast from the past with sizzlin' tunes!"

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @07:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @07:01PM (#621036)

      Lithium battery joke?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @08:33PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11 2018, @08:33PM (#621076)

      So you're saying this is basically like streaming my favorite tunes, except they're not my favorite tunes, but some rando DJ's? Will this put a dent in my data plan?

      • (Score: 3, TouchĂ©) by frojack on Thursday January 11 2018, @10:25PM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 11 2018, @10:25PM (#621145) Journal

        Doesn't use your data plan at all, you don't even need a sim in your phone.

        It uses hardly any battery at all.

        Its straight out of 1970s where you occasionally got exposed to new and different music between the old and repetitive stuff crap on your phone.

        And, free of charge, you got news, weather, and commercials for the local car wash and Bob's Tire Service.

        I know, right? Who would listen to that!??!

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:44AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:44AM (#621308)

          Also more likely to work during a hurricane when your Internet goes bust but several FM and AM stations are in range.

  • (Score: 2) by Uncle_Al on Thursday January 11 2018, @07:02PM (1 child)

    by Uncle_Al (1108) on Thursday January 11 2018, @07:02PM (#621037)

    Intentionally missing from the wonder multi-media list:

    Advertising

    • (Score: 2) by etherscythe on Thursday January 11 2018, @09:09PM

      by etherscythe (937) on Thursday January 11 2018, @09:09PM (#621085)

      I admit it's been some time since I listened to analog radio broadcast, but as I recall, advertising is already built in to the stream

  • (Score: 1) by nnet on Thursday January 11 2018, @09:58PM (3 children)

    by nnet (5716) on Thursday January 11 2018, @09:58PM (#621126)

    When I used to have to commute to work every day, I'd listen to Bob&Tom in the mornings, a local FM station syndicated it. Nowadays I only hear it if I have to leave the house in the morning. The car has FM radio. I don't have any other FM receiver. I'd listen to FM again if the chip was unlocked in my cellphone.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday January 11 2018, @10:19PM (2 children)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 11 2018, @10:19PM (#621144) Journal

      I'd listen to FM again if the chip was unlocked in my cellphone.

      Would you?

      Seriously, WHERE would you actually listen that you can't already?

      These FM chips in radios require you to use earbuds (they use the earbud wires for the FM antenna). Bluetooth won't work.

      Further, you can hardly find an FM station that doesn't ALSO stream everything (except perhaps live sports) on the internet. So some simple free app like "TuneIn Radio" can access the web stream without the earbuds.

      The use case for FM radio on a cell phone comes down to emergency broadcasts.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Thursday January 11 2018, @11:12PM

        by MostCynical (2589) on Thursday January 11 2018, @11:12PM (#621168)

        Maybe in the US, but Australia and the UK have extensive FM coverage, and quite alot of different stations.
        While top 40/high rotation/clearchannel type crap is out there, community, classical, and *local* stations are also "available", not just in major cities.

        Most cars still have fm radios, and, while "teenagers" would rather stream than use a radio, most houses still have fm radios.

        mind you, there is also a huge following for "old fashioned" television (the non-cable, need an aerial stuff)

        --
        (Score: tau, Irrational)
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by dry on Friday January 12 2018, @01:47AM

        by dry (223) on Friday January 12 2018, @01:47AM (#621222)

        You need a data connection to stream, uses battery that much faster and while it is true you need headphones for an antenna, you can still listen through the speaker, at least with the default app on my phone. Handy when the power goes out and the internet dies.
        If you do like live sports and are a spectator, the radio works in real time if you like listening to a play by play while watching.

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