Why Sports Scores Are Coming Natively to Siri

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past week or so, you’ve probably heard of my AssistantExtensions that bring sports scores to Siri. As of this morning, SiriNBA has been replaced with SiriSports. It’s basically the same as SiriNBA except with support for MLB and NHL scores. See a video of SiriSports in action here.

As you can imagine, I’ve been getting to know Siri pretty well and what I’ve learned is pretty exciting.

First, let me explain a little about how Siri works. When you say something to Siri, your voice recording is sent to Apple’s servers and transcribed into speech tokens. These speech tokens are basically just words. Apple’s servers interpret these speech tokens and send them, along with instructions, back to your device. Speech tokens are usually just one single word. However, there are some special cases where a speech token will be more than one word. For example, city names. In the screen shot below, you can see that when asking Siri for the weather, Apple’s servers understand that “New York City” is one thing and not three different words.

Siri understands that New York City is one thing, not three different words.

While testing SiriSports, I had to talk to Siri a lot. After implementing the ability to speak a team’s city along with the team name, I noticed something interesting. Siri understands sports teams as single speech tokens.

Siri understands that New York Yankees is not three distinct words.

Obviously, Siri does not currently support sports scores (without SiriSports). So, why else would this happen?

This isn’t the only reason that I believe sports scores are coming natively to Siri. ESPN recently released a developers API for accessing sports scores. Unfortunately, this API is only available to premium partners of ESPN. I contacted ESPN to see if they were willing to give me access for SiriSports (I know, it was a long-shot). Here’s how ESPN responded:

What's ESPN doing with Apple?

So, what exactly is ESPN working closely with Apple on? ESPN is owned by ABC which also owns Disney (which is very closely related with Apple). He may simply be referring to that. Or maybe, ESPN is going to be the one to provide Apple with sports scores. Who knows? I’m sure we’ll find out sooner or later.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

UPDATE (4/22/12): It looks like Siri no longer parses sports teams as single tokens. Could it be due to this blog post? Who knows…

22 Responses to Why Sports Scores Are Coming Natively to Siri
  1. [...] architecture’ for Siri – (using jailbreak methods) – in the process also stumbled upon... razorianfly.com/2012/03/26/siri-could-soon-give-you-espn-sports-scores
  2. [...] reports that Siri parses user requests by breaking down speech into recognized tokens. As an example, hi... applestocks.net/espn-collaborating-with-apple-appears-ready-to-add-sports-scores-to-siri
  3. [...] hoping and praying for since the software’s release back in October. According to developer Evan C... gottabemobile.com/2012/03/26/siri-rumored-to-be-getting-native-sports-scores
  4. [...] Coleman, a Cydia developer, noticed that Apple’s servers now recognize sports names as speech tokens f... techhyppo.com/looks-like-espn-sports-scores-may-be-coming-to-siri
  5. [...] reports that Siri parses user requests by breaking down speech into recognized tokens. As an example, hi... iyaan.info/espn-collaborating-with-apple-appears-ready-to-add-sports-scores-to-siri
  6. [...] jailbreak extension developer Evan Coleman has uncovered evidence that Siri could very well be ready t... tracehotnews.com/why-siris-first-new-feature-could-be-giving-you-espn-sports-scores
  7. [...] man dem Blogeintrag eines Apple Entwicklers kann man über Siri demnächst auch Sportergebnisse abfragen... geekstream.de/2012/03/27/siri-wird-sportreporter-nur-nicht-in-deustchland
  8. [...] virtual assistant, Siri, might soon know sports scores. Hacking away at a jailbroken feature, Evan Colem... blog.programmableweb.com/2012/03/27/today-in-apis-spotify-gnip-espn-and-11-new-apis
  9. [...] Why Sports Scores Are Coming Natively to Siri (Evan Coleman) [...]... skshaileshsingh.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/remains-of-the-day-up-in-the-air
  10. [...] for Cydia, a Siri add-on that allows jailbroken phones to relay sports scores. For his app, he’s done ... the-ipad-zone.com/ipad-news/siri-may-soon-become-espn%e2%80%99s-best-friend
  11. [...] Coleman, a Cydia developer, noticed that Apple’s servers now recognize sports names as speech toke... iosworld.net/looks-like-espn-sports-scores-may-be-coming-to-siri
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