Is Apple's Siri a Sports Fan?

It's seems like just a matter of time before Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) teaches its Siri virtual assistant new tricks.

There have been some hints that Apple may be thinking about opening up Siri's application programming interfaces, or APIs, to third-party developers, although the jury's still out on when that may happen, if at all. The latest evidence comes from developer Evan Coleman, who has an app available for jailbroken iPhones (which allow apps and functions that aren't officially sanctioned by Apple) that serves up sports scores.

Coleman has noticed some interesting tidbits buried deep inside Siri's code. Siri transcribes input into "speech tokens" as part of the process of interpreting various commands. These tokens are typically one word but can be multiple words like "New York City." He noticed that Siri is able to recognize individual sports teams as speech tokens.

Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) ESPN released a developer API for accessing sports scores recently, but it's available only to ESPN's "premium partners." Coleman reached out to ESPN requesting access, and while he was shot down, the ESPN spokesman told him, "As you can imagine, ESPN works closely with Apple on many fronts."

This is far from conclusive evidence, but putting all these pieces together pretty strongly suggests that Apple may soon integrate sports scores into Siri. There's not really any other explanation for why Siri would be able to recognize team names this way, since none of its existing commands could use it.

It would complement other content services like grabbing Yelp (Nasdaq: YELP  ) reviews or Wolfram Alpha queries. Imagine asking Siri, "Who's winning the New York Yankees game?"

Apple and Disney have been rather friendly after Disney bought Pixar years ago, earning Steve Jobs billions in the process. Disney CEO Bob Iger also sits on Apple's board and even picked up $1 million in Apple shares for himself recently, so the pair has plenty of ties.

It's inevitable that Apple will broaden Siri's functionalities, especially as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is probably working on its own Google Assistant as we speak, and that Big G's generally open-content strategy will surely incorporate third-party support.

Congratulations, sports fans. You might be among the first to enjoy Siri's new tricks.

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Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple and Walt Disney, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Walt Disney, and Google and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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