Why Apple should do more to help phone users in emergencies

With catastrophes coming right and left — some acts of Mother Nature (and Father Global Warming), others triggered by gunmen and dictators — we have to ask hard questions. Are tech giants obligated to give their products upgrades that enhance the well-being of users in an emergency? Why does it take a calamity to get the big players and government watchdogs to act?

Tesla underscored the theme last month when the carmaker temporarily increased — by wireless-radio connection — the battery capacity and driving range of some Florida-hurricane-escaping electric rides with a free software upgrade that used to cost $6,000.

The National Association of Broadcasters and Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai have been pushing that point again in recent weeks, seeking to shame Apple into supporting the FM radio tuner circuitry that has long been onboard but never activated on almost 100 million iPhones.

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