T. Carter Ross is editor in chief of Radio World International
NAB and CEA can debate whether or not consumers want FM radios in their cell phones, but at least one user is settling the debate for himself.
The Motorola Droid 2 officially doesn’t have an FM radio in it. However, much like the presumed FM chip in the iPhone, the Droid 2 has been presumed to have a disabled FM capability since the Droid X phone has FM.
A Droid 2 owner figured a way to enable the FM chip in his phone. It involves “rooting” the device (essentially bypassing safeguards on the phone that prevent the user from seeing and modifying system files) and then pushing some of the Droid X radio application files to the Droid 2 using the Android SDK. It isn't a pretty or simple way to wake up the FM chip, but, according to the user, it works. (My HTC Hero lacks an FM chip, sleeping or otherwise, so I can’t test the hack myself.)
Rooting a phone (as well as more advanced activities, such as flashing custom ROMs to the unit) can void the phone's warranty and is not condoned by manufacturers or carriers. However, Android is based on Linux and there is an active community of open source developers constantly looking to improve the platform ... which leads to developments like this. And down the road, it may well lead to an easier-to-implement "on switch" to awaken similar sleeping FM chips in other Android devices.
Hat tip to the Android Police.