Apple soon to activate ‘hidden’ FM radio in iPhone and iPod Touch?

It’s no secret that the iPod Touch is capable of more than Apple lets on – or rather more than Apple will let the device do.

Last month a ‘teardown’ of the third-gen iPod Touch by iFixit revealed the presence of a Broadcom wireless chip which packs an FM receiver and FM transmitter (along with 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi).

A refresh of the iPod Nano released at the same time as the new Touch added an FM radio along with support for ‘live pause’ and iTunes Tagging.

The former permits the user to pause a live FM broadcast and record the incoming stream onto the Nano’s flash memory for up to 15 minutes. Users can ‘rewind’ the recording and also use fast-forward to catch up to the live broadcast.

iTunes Tagging works with FM stations which broadcast metadata over a second RDS (Radio Data System) channel by ‘tagging’ songs in order to search for them on the iTunes Music Store.

Now reports that a similar FM radio app is being cooked up by Apple for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

This would bring the same functionality to these two devices but would of course require an update to active the FM radio circuitry already present in each unit.

This activation could be delivered as part of the app itself or might be introduced in a separate software update – in which case it might follow in the same line of previous updates which are offered free for the iPhone but carry a modest cost for the iPod Touch.

However Apple wants to take iTunes Tagging one step further and directly link a tagged track to the iTunes Mobile Store for the purpose of immediate purchase.

“For instance if you like a song you are listening to on the radio (and that station supports tagging and you are in the US) you will be able to push a button and see the song (and all of the information around it) in the iTunes Mobile store” writes 9to5Mac’s Seth Weintraub.

“With another click you’ll be able to make a purchase. This is an extension of the Song Tagging feature used in the iPod Nano.”