Unlock the key FM tuner in your Android cellphone

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NextRadio can activate your cellphone’s beforehand unused FM receiver.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Your cellphone has been holding out on you.

Imagine it or not, your mannequin may need a built-in FM radio receiver. And also you needn’t do any jailbreaking or violate any phrases of service to make use of it. You simply want the best app.


Earlier than we dive into the specifics, let me reply your inevitable questions: Why would cellphone producers embrace an FM tuner and never inform customers about it, and why trouble with an FM tuner when numerous apps can stream FM stations from all around the world?

The latter is simple: Streaming consumes information whereas a tuner doesn’t. (Or, not less than, not a lot — see beneath.) Streaming additionally requires significantly extra energy than a tuner, which means your battery will die extra rapidly.

Moreover, I’ve discovered that apps like TuneIn and iHeartRadio do not all the time have all my native stations. With an actual tuner, I can choose up something that is in vary — and luxuriate in compression-free audio besides.

As for why telephones have FM tuners in any respect, my guess is that Google’s Android specs embrace the characteristic, even when the OS itself would not provide any strategy to entry it. And cellphone producers in all probability do not see it as an enormous value-add, so they do not trouble to develop or embrace a suitable app. Thus, the FM receiver stays deactivated.

Tune in radio


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Luckily, there is a free app that may activate it for you: NextRadio. Prior to installing it, examine the listing of supported units, which incorporates telephones from LG, Motorola and Samsung, to call just some. (Be sure that to notice the provider as properly. Though my Samsung Galaxy S6($294.00 at Amazon.com) is on the listing, it is a Verizon mannequin, and due to this fact not suitable.)

In case your cellphone is not on the listing, there isn’t any hurt in making an attempt the app. (If it would not detect an FM chip, it’s going to provide to allow you to stream stations as a substitute.)

Assuming it detects the chip, there’s just one different factor you will want: an antenna, which may take the type of any wired earphones (or a stereo cable — mainly something that plugs in and has a wire).

Luckily, you do not have to limit your self to listening by way of headphones. The app enables you to toggle the output to your cellphone’s speaker. Alas, output cannot be directed to a Bluetooth speaker.

NextRadio does eat a small quantity of knowledge as a result of it retrieves station logos, album art work and the like. If you wish to function it completely data-free, faucet the Menu icon, then Settings > Interface > Change to Tuner Solely Mode.

Though NextRadio is free, it is ad-supported — and there is presently no choice to eradicate the adverts. That small gripe apart, what may very well be higher than unlocking a cool new characteristic you did not know your cellphone had?

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