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.
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.
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:
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…