October 14, 2009, 9:52 PM — A couple of interesting tidbits have come out in the past few days about how your existing iPhone could be improved without you having to buy anything! First up (and more pressing) is the possibility of FM radio on the iPhone. Truthfully, this is the one feature that has made me envious of the Zune (and there's four words you never see on Apple blogs). Word is that FM radio will play in the background, like the iPod app, and that what's holding it back is not the FM technology -- that's been built into the chipset inside the last couple generations of iPhones and iPod Touches -- but Apple trying to work out the details of a service that will let you buy songs as you hear them.
The other possibility won't come about for a while, but could bring more changes. A group called the Wi-Fi Alliance -- of which Apple is a prominent member -- has announced a spec called Wi-Fi Direct that will, to make a long story short, allow Wi-Fi devices to communicate with each other directly, without an intervening hotspot or access point. This is probably causing mass freakouts over in Bluetooth land, as it would allow a single connection type to take over the roles played by both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi -- and might simplify iPhone-to-computer connections substantially.
Both possible technologies will require only a software update to turn on, which is very exciting to those of us with iPhone 3Gs that are already feeling inadequate. It's of course kind of laughable that good old fashioned radio is only now making it onto the iPhone -- maybe Apple just assumed it would eventually fade away, and is making a grudging acknowledgment of its continued popularity.