Apple Developing FM Radio App for iPhone?


9to5Mac is reporting they've received a tip that Apple is developing an FM Radio app for the iPhone and iPod touch that will have background multi-tasking (like Apple's Phone and iPod apps), and may be able to pause live programming like the new iPod nano radio feature.

It will either be provided as a stand alone app, or integrated into the iPod app, but it's still a work in progress:

The holdup on this app is that Apple is trying to integrate the Mobile iTunes Store purchases into the functionality of the program. For instance, if you like a song you are listening to on the radio (and that station supports tagging and you are in the US), you will be able to push a button and see the song (and all of the information around it) in the iTunes Mobile store. With another click, you'll be able to make a purchase. This is an extension of the Song Tagging feature used in the iPod Nanos. Perhaps they could even add some Shazam technology to help with those stations that don't support tagging.

9to5Mac further claims that existing iPhones and iPod touches have been technically able, though not yet enabled, to receive FM Radio for a while now, and that the iPhone 3GS and iPod touch G3 can even broadcast FM Radio as part of the Nike+.

While rumors of FM Radio functionality, and radio tagging surfaced before the iPhone 3GS shipped, and the chipsets may have such technology as part of their overall package, it's unknown how easily Apple could "flip the switch" on full FM Radio -- the way they did for Bluetooth Stereo A2DP on the iPod touch G2.

Still, given the iPod nano's radio feature, and under the cliche of better late than never, if Apple does indeed add or just build in a Radio tab to, were' sure some users would be happy. Right?

[Small-print disclaimer: Image above represents iPod nano radio app composited onto the iPhone 3GS]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 67 comments. Add yours.

Adrian says:

Sorry I got fat fingers I'm going to quit posting :)

Jellotime91 says:

iPod touch G2 also has Nike+ built-in fm radios Rene.

Al says:

I could take it or leave it unless this built in transmitting to a car stereo. I would use that everyday to replace my old casette adapter. Please Apple!

Alex says:

If I could use it to broadcast my music to my car radio I would poop myself with happiness and rainbows
That would be clutch, as I was about to buy a solution to hook my iPhone 3GS to my car stereo.
::crosses fingers::

YoungKevin says:

Yea. I've been waiting for it for a while now.

Victor says:

That would be nice, but I can assure you I can't think of one single instance of when I would rather listen to the radio rather than my ipod library. I would like to be able to broadcast fm though so I don't have to keep plugging it into my car...

tweger01 says:

Pandora makes this almost obsolete, but i love that they're adding it!

jtz5 says:

I am very happy...I have been asking for this for a long time. I don't listen to FM radio for music, but at the gym, I need FM radio to listen to the TV's audio feed. Listening to local talk not bad either.

cmjanus says:

I think it would be nice to have the radio especially for football games.

Mike says:

who cares? with streaming solutions, podcasting and pandora i havent used fm in years.

cgerzzz says:

um...people still listen to FM radio? i thought that died out with sega master system.

fastlane says:

... will have background multi-tasking (like Apple’s Phone and iPod apps)...

...and the Clock/Stopwatch/Timer, and Voice Memos, and SMS Alerts, and Calendar Alerts...
I always prefer Apple apps all the way. Even if some have less features, they still run in the background.

behrlover says:

This is pointless, how about something more people have been calling out for like the ability to make your own SMS tones without jailbreaking.

FrankRow says:

I think this would be a great app/feature. I'm bot a big FM radio listener anymore with everything else out there like other people have said but it would be nice to at least have the option. Also, if it could run in the background like ipod, that would be even better. Make it happen Apple!

Wyatt says:

I'd use it. Pandora is okay but it can't replace a real person as a DJ or news updates. And without third party apps running in the background I find all streaming apps useless.

JeffreyR says:

Terrestrial radio is dead. It is boring, repetitive, provincial and either filled with advertisements (in commercial mode) or just plain sleep inducing (in public radio mode). This will be a useless app.

jtz5 says:

Making your own SMS tones...what are you 12?
Some sports programming is not available thru streaming apps, so FM is needed.

Chris Vitek says:

Broadcasting would be great for cars that don't have bluetooth!!

frog says:

Your sh*tting us, surely? If Apple release an FM radio/transmitter app (or firmware update) for current hardware - I'll eat my hate!

Steven S says:

Iphone lucasarts stylee point n clickage may just be the remedy to this app!

Steven S says:

Oo & a game design blog of sorts
for you coders!

sfditty says:

I just remember how absolutely horrible the Apple iPod FM radio peripheral was. Unless it can pick up and hold FM signals much better than the ipod add-on, it will be utterly useless.

Simon says:

Are you serious? I agree with Ben. I want to add my own SMS tones because I'm sick of hearing my message tone and then find out someone else's phone was ringing. How hard is it to add this feature? And 4/6 of the tones are garbage anyhow.

Sean Peters says:

I'm fairly amazed by the "I'd be so happy I'd poop rainbows" over an FM transmitter. I had one of these things... and it totally, totally sucked. Horrible interference and very weak signal no matter what frequency you selected. The tape deck interface is far superior, if you have a tape deck.

ThisBrian says:

Man this is going to make me so cool when I pull out my iPhone in a thunder storm (weather alerts radio baby), keep adding features apple. Wahoo!!!
Sorry after reading all the post, I don't care, this is so cool, I just needed to add to the hipe!!

Dealwagon says:

How long till a JB app does it?

sfditty says:

I have to agree, this app would make Brian wicked cool.

Bubba says:

Would be nice for the stations that broadcast live sports on FM. But for music I could care less. Much better options available.

jtz5 says:

Anyone notice the TomTom car kit was yanked from tomtom website? No more "coming soon"?

Joe McG says:

Would be nice at the gym for the tv's that say "tune to 96.3 FM for audio"

Ricosuave1 says:

Yeah. That's exactly what I've trying to figure out for a couple of days now.I've tried loading Slaker and a couple of other radio apps but when I enter the gym FM (for listening to the TV's) number it comes up with these stations that are out of state?

Adam says:

I got pocket tunes on my phone. I can get stations from all over.

DAVID says:

I sure hope that isnt supposed to be a current screenshot, cause the 3G logo is REALLY old.

Miles says:

Why do I have a feeling they're going to make us pay for this?

B3gin says:

Well I hope they add it unlike all these that just bitch even when they are talking about getting a free app. I figure it will eat less battery than Iradio. So good for me. Sucks to be the people who just like to bitch… and …bitc.

Miles says:

I think many of you have it wrong. This is an fm receiver, not a transmitter. Therefore you can get fm signals to listen to local radio but you cannot transmit a signal to your car radio.

Miles says:

Also this is to receive actual fm signals, not an Internet stream like pandora.

Leroy says:

Meh, I'd rather have AM radio than FM.

kaelendra says:

Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want!
I so want this.... Sometimes when I'm diff places I want to listen to the radio to hear new tunes, or even find out if there's traffic that'll hold the buss up i'm on for instance as there's a station near me that gives great quick updates for traffic jams and they do it fastest on the radio not on their website.
Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want!

Mike says:

This will probably be on the 4.0 firmware.

Stan The Man says:

FM with the ability to rewind would be cool. Maybe HD radio? They'd sell a lot more music...It makes sense, antenna is already there. Probably not available on the iPhone 2G.

desjones4ever says:

I have a feelng that 4.0 is gonna be the truth.

Gen X says:

Yeah man, FM went the way of the dodo bird. If its not PS3 or Xbox its junk man. he he he

Carbon Based Lifeform says:

I would love FM radio on my iPhone and iTouch. When travelling I always want to keep up with the local news and I hate having to take a radio as well. Please hurry!

Misael ruiz says:

I would not really care because who listens to radio anymore
(first post)

Anthony sux says:

Having it would be cool, but I'd probably only use it once or twice a month, since I only listen to radio in my car. But AM radio is where it's at! Chris hit it on the money, being able to listen to an AM broadcast of the football game while in the stands without having to carry anything more than my iPhone would be perfect!

Fixtnk says:

Hey Any new feature is welcome!

stagen says:

Well, would be useful I guess. I can't remember the last time I listened to the actual radio though.
My fav new app for music is Cadence. Matches your music to your motion.

eddiej says:

As a radio station owner/operator, I'd say this is long overdue. It would give me a chance to not only be anywhere in my community and receive my signal through my phone without using a seperate device.

jtz5 says:

From PC World, 3GS also has FM transmission capability, but will it be activated...
The rumoured iPhone radio app is also said to integrate with the mobile iTunes Store for on-the-fly purchases, as an extension to the song tagging feature found on the latest iPod nano models. Live pause functionality will likely be incorporated as well.
It's interesting to note that it has been reported that the iPhone 3GS and the latest iPod touch also have dormant FM transmitter capabilities, which could be used to broadcast sound into car stereos. However, enabling such capabilities would make obsolete the bunch of FM transmitter accessories already available in the iPhone ecosystem.

Jay Owen says:

This sounds great. Really looking forward to checking it out.

OmariJames says:

what a way to snag some christmas sales. I wouldn't mind the app, just swap it with the Stocks app ;]

rr4him says:

Just use Wunderradio app. I listen to games streaming with this app all the time. Plus, it will let you browse the Internet while streaming in the background!

Steve Bryan says:

@Miles, the information about an FM transmitter is not speculation. Nike+ uses FM transmission for its functionality so the question is whether there is sufficient bandwidth for audio and crafting a great UI. It would probably be even more universally appreciated by customers than a background capable FM radio but I'd certainly use both. I usually have no problem staying awake listening to public radio.

Willis Taylor says:

FM Radio is what I LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

D says:

Yeah I'd be happy. That would be sweet. As it is right now I love a morning show, but since my job requires that I walk all day long, I've been able to make use of my iTunes songs but I miss the radio show. Having an fm app on my iPhone 3gs would rock.

icebike says:

@Steve Bryan:
1) iPhone 3Gs does not contain an FM transmitter. Period.
2) Nike+ does not use FM. It uses ANT, which is handled by the bluetooth controller.

brad says:

Football and basketball games!

Janak says:

Yaa i mean i-phone as evrything but FM radio they need to built up an app for Radio...hopefully soon.. thankx

Darlene Vizza says:

watch world cup football soccer online streaming free - click my link above

danekramer says:

When will we ever see this feature? It seeps stupid that you would have to find an app to stream your local radio station over AT&T's famously strained cellular network when you could be getting it over the FM airwaves. Why my super cool iPhone lacks a feature that is standard in any new iPod nano is beyond me. Is there a radio feature in an iPod touch?