Do FM Transmitter Apps Work? How to Transmit Radio From Your Phone
Who would have thought that one day a widespread challenge would be getting audio stored on one device to play on another? For the most part, we’ve settled on Bluetooth as our go-to connection. But Bluetooth isn’t always available, and buying the necessary gear to adapt a non-Bluetooth device can quickly become expensive.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could stream music and podcasts over FM radio waves instead? Cars and boomboxes already have built-in FM radios. Then, you can also get radios for your home on a budget by raiding yard sales instead of saving up for a brand new Sonos player.
Is streaming content over FM radio only a dream, or is the technology in place to make this a reality? Luckily, it’s the latter.
What Is FM Radio Transmitting?
Terrestrial radio depends on two key pieces of equipment: a transmitter and a receiver. Typically, the transmitter is a radio tower, and your car stereo or handheld radio is the receiver.
In the context of smartphones, radio transmitting means streaming audio out across radio waves rather than in. Theoretically, you can do this without purchasing anything extra, as long as your phone has FM radio functionality. Technically, most smartphones do, but a majority of manufacturers disable the feature.
Perhaps you noticed that we said theoretically. That’s because even if your phone does have FM radio playback enabled, that doesn’t mean you’re good to go. While there are some FM transmitter apps in the Google Play Store, they don’t seem to work reliably. More than likely, especially if you live in the US, you’re going to need to purchase additional hardware.
According to National Public Radio, companies block FM radio functionality as a way to get customers to use and purchase more data. Some companies just don’t want to deal with supporting different modems in different areas.
But as of 2018, Samsung is at least one manufacturer that now enables the FM radio on its devices. Hopefully, more manufacturers follow suit.
Though, you’re not necessarily out of luck if your phone comes from a manufacturer that lacks FM support. You may have the option to unlock the FM radio yourself.
What Are FM Radio Transmitters and Modulators?
An FM radio transmitter is a device that transmits audio from your phone in the form of FM frequencies. Many FM transmitters have a range of only a few yards, enough to reach from one end of a home or backyard to the other.
FM radio signals may suffer static from any number of causes, like weather and geography, walls, or the location of your stereo antenna. Range won’t impact how well the device performs in your car, but weather and radio congestion might.
FM modulators connect directly to the receiving device, such as your boombox or car antenna. They use frequencies set specifically for your smartphone, which helps to eliminate static.
Overall, FM modulators are more difficult to install. For an easier plug-and-play solution, we’ll keep our focus on FM transmitters.
The Different Types of FM Transmitters
FM transmitters come in different styles. Most consumer options are for automobile use. But if you’re really invested, you can take it to the next level and get one that’ll work in your home.
JETech Wireless FM Transmitter
This wireless FM transmitter from JETech works without Bluetooth and instead through a 3.5mm audio jack. You can play music, audiobooks, podcasts, and more directly from your phone to your car’s radio after plugging this nifty contraption into both your phone and your car.
Related: How to Install a Dashcam in Your Car
There’s also an extra USB port built-in that you can use to charge your phone. It’s compatible with any smartphone or tablet that has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Nulaxy Bluetooth FM Transmitter
Nulaxy’s Bluetooth FM transmitter has a 1.44-inch LCD screen that makes it easy to read info like who’s calling you, which FM channel you’re on, and more. It can also be adjusted until it’s at the perfect viewing angle for you.
You can even answer, reject, and make phone calls with voice control. This transmitter is compatible with most smartphones and connects via Bluetooth, TF card, and aux cable.
Anker ROAV Bluetooth FM Transmitter
Anker’s ROAV transmitter delivers reliable connections for your music and other audio through Bluetooth and FM connections. You can find an unoccupied station and with the boosted FM signal and static-cancellation technology, you’ll be able to get a crisp listening experience.
On the transmitter’s face, there are two USB ports for you to charge your smartphones, tablets, or other devices. You can also use the buttons on top to answer and end phone calls.
Whole House FM Transmitter
For an in-home solution, you can invest in a standalone FM transmitter. Standalone transmitters may be portable or heavier units that sit on a shelf somewhere with their own dedicated power supply and antenna. The Whole House FM Transmitter lets you connect your phone via a 3.5mm aux cable.
Even on low settings, standalone FM transmitters can produce signals strong enough to spread out not only across your house and yard, but several neighbors as well. Some send signals out in distances better measured by miles than feet.
At that range, they’re illegal to use in the continental US unless you have a license, so make sure to check the rules in your area. If you live in the US, you can find them on the Federal Communication Commission’s website.
What About FM Transmitter Apps?
We searched around the Google Play Store for FM transmitter apps and didn’t see any that weren’t blanketed with 1-star reviews. A lot of the reviews warned that the app either didn’t work and/or was a fake.
In short, we would recommend purchasing an FM radio transmitter or modulator if you’re serious about listening to music in this way. Doing so will also save you from being dependent on any one app and ongoing updates. And don’t forget, there are plenty of other ways to play music to your car’s stereo besides over FM radio waves.
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Want to play music from your phone to your car’s stereo? Here are all your options and how to pick the best way for you.
About The Author
(56 Articles Published)
Sarah Chaney is a professional freelance writer for MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and KOINO IT Solutions. She enjoys covering anything Android, video game, or tech related. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her baking something delicious or playing video games.
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November 20, 2021 at 09:20AM