Good old-fashioned FM radio – and when it won’t work

By | March 12, 2018
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Well, as I’ve mentioned, the new Smartphone Photography book will be announced today. Not until 11am (UK time), though – watch this space for an email from me.

But for now I have something else I wanted to tell you about.

First, I don’t know if you’ve ever used a smartphone to listen to music. Lots of people do and it can be handy when you’re out and about.

You can use it to listen to music you’ve put on the phone, music on the internet (maybe using YouTube) or FM radio, usually using an app called “FM radio” or just “radio”.

But if you’ve used it for FM radio you might have found it sometimes works and sometimes won’t. I know with radio you can find that the signal breaks up a bit, but this is different – when it won’t work, it just won’t work at all.

And if you’re eagled-eyed (I suppose that should be eagle-eared… hmmm, do eagles have ears? Maybe it should be dog-eared, they have good hearing, but that means something else!)… you may have spotted that the problem is when you don’t have headphones plugged in.

On many smartphones you can listen to the radio – but only when the headphones are plugged in.

It’s not you going mad and it’s not something going wrong on your phone – it’s actually how they’re designed. This means that if you use a separate speaker to listen to music from your phone, you can’t play the radio on those separate speakers – ONLY through headphones.

It’s not true of all smartphones, but it is for most – and it’s because it’s actually using the headphone cable as an aerial as well as to connect it to the headphones.

So if you wanted to listen to the radio then you’ll either have to use a separate radio, listen on headphones, or maybe find out if that radio station has a website that you can play through the speakers.

But at least you know it’s not you not doing it properly – it just won’t work without headphones.

Anyway, don’t forget to watch out for my email at 11am!

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