Android phones to have FM chips as standard

By James Cridland for
Posted 16 September 2014, 5.08am edt

Google have announced Android One, a new, low-cost smartphone for developing countries: and, unlike other flagship models, all Android One phones include an FM tuner.

Android One phones are a new departure for the internet giant: specifically designed to run on relatively cheap hardware, Google assists local manufacturers in building the phone and take care of all software upgrades for at least two years.

In a blog post, the Google Android blog reveals that the price for these phones start at 6399 rupees (£65, US$105), and highlight some of the benefits as being:

By working closely with phone and silicon chip makers to share reference designs and select components, we’re making it easier for our partners to build phones that are not just great to use, but also affordable. They have lots of processing power, so you can get information quickly. They have high-quality front- and rear-facing cameras. And for all those pictures, along with your apps and videos, Android One phones will have expandable storage. We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio.

It should be highlighted that neither Google's premium Nexus range of phones contains an FM tuner, and nor does Apple's iPhone.

Android One phones are also unlikely to be available in the UK or the US: at least for now. Google highlights India, Indonesia and the Phillipines as initial markets.

However, having an 'official' FM tuner inside Android devices, complete with updates from Google, means that there is likely to be an official API to control this tuner: and, as such, it is possible that future radio apps might be able to detect availability of a listeners' radio station on FM and automatically switch away from battery-hungry data streaming - offered already by some Samsung Android devices using RadioDNS.

The cheaper the phone is, the more likely it'll have FM inside. Curious, isn't it?

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.