Apple Getting Digital FM Radio?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Using a new jailbreaking software for iOS 6, bloggers from 9to5Mac say they found some unused icons in the Music app:

The files are called some variation of “radio button” with an icon that looks similar to the radio icon that used to be in iTunes for Mac. The iPad music app currently doesn’t have any radio functionality, so our first thought was that Apple would be adding an iTunes-like ‘traditional’ streaming radio to the iPad. Notably, jailbroken iPhones don’t contain these files in the Music app.

This could imply exciting new functionality. We heard no shortage of rumors that Apple planned to take on the Pandoras and Spotifys of the world with its own ‘Radio’ service, and Bloomberg predicted a Q1 2013 (current) launch.

Everyone seems to think its the harbinger of an Apple streaming music service. But Apple might be incorporating a Digital FM radio tuner in its next iPhones, with a linkback to iTunes.

Sprint has agreed to activate an FM analog tuner in a total of some 30 million smartphones over the next three years. The Emmis NextRadio app will be preloaded on the devices thus allowing cellphone users “to hear over-the-air radio without data charges.”

The user can see album art, playlists and location-based advertising. The NextRadio app works in conjunction with the Emmis’ TagStation middleware, where the audio feed is synched with visual elements. Sprint gets a portion of this ad revenue since the radio service is free and off the air. The company hopes to rollout product this summer and other carriers are possible.

Artist Experience allows broadcasters to embed album art, station logos and other graphic content. It’s incorporated into the digital bit stream and displayed on compatible receivers with screens.

Artist Experience is like a slide show, synched to the radio stream, displaying album art and advertising. Jump2Go and Emmis TagStation have products that insert the AE content, which is multiplexed along with the HD audio signal.

Emmis Communications says its FM and HD Radio music stations let listeners using certain Apple devices tag songs heard on FM and HD Radio.

Emmis Chief Technology Officer Paul Brenner says NextRadio leverages the efficiency and scalability of broadcast radio enhanced by the phone’s data channel to deliver an interactive artist and ad experience.

Any RDS or HD device that is enabled with song tagging will either display an on-screen price tag (touch to tag like a newer iPod Gen 6 or
HD Radio for iPhone) or a menu item to ‘Tag this Song’ for older iPods with FM radio built in.

Automobiles display a tag button or shopping cart (like the new Ford HD Radio) that stores the data in the connected Apple device. Non-Apple devices like Microsoft Zune typically have a tag button or menu item for ‘Tag This Song.’

My guess is the new icon most likely means the next iPhone will include a digital FM tuner, and the tunes you hear on the radio will be linked to the iTunes store.

See Dailywireless: Digital FM Radio Comes to Smartphones

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 at 10:55 am .

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