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What Happens When Your Smartphone Is a Transistor Radio?

Tuning in during emergencies can be critical and may change listening habits

In a recent Boston Globe Tech Lab column, Hiawatha Bray argues that activating FM chips in smartphones is practical and important.

During a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, “an FM-compatible phone kept me connected to the rest of the world,” Bray writes.

When Joseph Kabila shut down the internet, 79 million people were knocked offline. But Bray was able to tune into the BBC’s Congo service and Radio France International using his FM chip-enabled HTC One in the tradition of a transistor radio over the course of the two-day lockdown.

“And you might need it too, when a severe nor’easter or a brutal hurricane rips up the cellular network,” Bray says.

“For now, most people probably listen to smartphone FM only in emergencies. But if it’s built into every Android phone, our listening habits might change. We could even see a change of heart at the industry’s biggest FM holdout, Apple Inc.,” Bray writes optimistically.

What will be the tipping point that finally convinces Apple to jump on the FM chip bandwagon?

Read the full article online here.