Emergency ready: Samsung phones to unlock FM chips in their new models

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The world's largest Android smartphone maker has agreed to unlock the FM chip in upcoming handsets sold in the U.S. and Canada, according to NextRadio, maker of an FM radio app. Samsung itself did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment about NextRadio's announcement. TagStation, LLC has developed the TagStationĀ® service to provide radio stations with artist and title information and unique interactivity with listeners.

Samsung joins the bandwagon of companies such as LG, Motorola, and Alcatel that have already activated the FM chips on their smartphones.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai past year asked Apple to activate the FM radio chips installed in their phones in the interest of public safety.

But we're guessing the feature's unlocking was previously up to every individual mobile network operator, and Samsung may now be preparing to enforce a stricter policy of universal activation. The app allows users to connect to their local FM broadcast stations, which uses less battery life than streaming does, which can be vital in emergency areas that don't have power or wireless carrier signal.

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"Samsung should be lauded for taking this important step", NextRadio President Paul Brenner said in a press release. It is simply a matter of smartphone manufacturers enabling the chip for that functionality. He noted that access to FM radio aided those affected by recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico, Houston and the Florida coast.

Both the companies announced the partnership today and also noted the importance of of FM radio in some areas beside the modern means of listening music. Approximately 44% of USA smartphones have their FM chips enabled, according to the FCC.

Many smartphones in the world are manufactured with hardware capable of receiving free FM radio signals.

Most smartphones ship with FM chips, but they are usually not enabled for various reasons.