updated 05:25 pm EDT, Tue October 13, 2009
Apple touch devices may get radio app
A rumor today claims that Apple is developing software to expose FM radio tuning for certain models of the iPhone and iPod touch. The software would likely have the same feature set as the current iPod nano and could tag songs to buy them in iTunes; the Internet connection would appropriately give the option of buying the song immediately instead of waiting for the next computer sync. Though not discussed by the source, the DVR-like live pause mode is a probable addition as well.
A present incarnation would have the radio app separate from other components of the iPhone OS, though Apple is reportedly considering blending the radio into the iPod app. Either solution would have explicit permission to run in the background.
The addition wouldn't require a hardware revision for Apple's existing touchscreen players. Most of the devices from at least the second-generation iPod touch onward use mixed-format wireless chipsets, often from Broadcom, that carry FM along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; the addition was what let Apple expose Bluetooth on the iPod touch simply by launching iPhone OS 3.0. As such, Apple may only need to issue a mid-cycle firmware update.
Apple is also known to have given the third-generation, 32GB and 64GB iPod touch models an 802.11n-capable chip that supports FM transmitting and could be used to send audio wirelessly to a car stereo, though no talk has emerged of implementing that technique.