FM chip activation rolls through the BlackBerry universe

blackberry fm screenshot q10 300w

Screenshot by David Oxenford

We spotted a tweet from media licensing attorney and RAIN Summit participant David Oxenford, indicating that an operating-system push from AT&T turned on the FM chip in his trusty Q10 phone.

“FM over-the-air is now available on my Blackberry Q10 as ATT pushed an upgrade to the operating system today – nothing fancy but works great.” –David Oxenford on Twitter

The AT&T activation in the Q10 phone follows an announcement earlier this year that its BB10 model would receive FM transmission.

David Oxenford told us that the radio functions are buried in another icon, similar to iTunes Radio hiding within the iPhones Music icon.

“Once the update is complete, you go to the Music Icon that was already on the phone, and they have added a radio tab within that Icon.  I had to go online to figure that out.  I was looking for the FM receiver in all the Settings Icons and other systems tabs, and couldn’t find anything that said “radio.”  For some reason, it never occurred to me to go to the Music Icon that was already on my screen.”

Oxenford’s first test found good reception:

“Once you get to the radio tab, with headphones or earbuds attached (they are the antenna), the screen is populated with the frequencies of radio stations that are in your area.  Tap on the frequency, and the local station immediately starts playing.  Very clear (though I am listening in downtown DC).”

And the best feature of all:

“The most amazing thing to me was how quickly the radio tuned to another station.  You hit the frequency tab for another station, and it immediately starts up.  No buffering like on Internet radio.  Even on a car or tabletop radio, there is a few seconds where you have static or silence as the radio tunes to the new channel.  Here, it is instantly on the new channel.  So fast that sometimes I didn’t even realize that the station had indeed changed!”

There is a growing clamor to activate FM reception in smartphones. The most formal broadcast-industry initiative is NextRadio, a mobile solution incorporating the TagStation app available on phones that have partnered with NextRadio by activating built-in FM receivers, and allowing the app download. Some Sprint phones are NextRadio-enabled.

Oxenford is glad to take what he can get, but wishes for more:

“Obviously, I wish there was more functionality — RDS or the new Next Radio App, but I am amazed by even small things, like having FM on my phone!”


Brad Hill

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