In the days after Apple launched its Siri voice assistant on the iPhone 4S, the talk inevitably turned to when when it would be opened up to developers to play with. There has been no API yet, but Siri did actually launch with some partners, including Yelp and Wolfram Alpha.
Now, jailbreak extension developer Evan Coleman has uncovered evidence that Siri could very well be ready to do more, perhaps in partnership with ESPN. Coleman developed the popular SiriSports tweak for jailbroken iPhones, which delivers sports scores on voice command. While trudging through the Siri request and response feeds in order to make his extension work, Coleman discovered that Siri recognized sports team names like ‘New York Yankees’ as one discreet term, rather than three separate words.
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Now, this isn’t completely conclusive evidence by a long shot. Siri also treats other proper nouns as single ‘tokens’ that it uses to parse commands. But the fact that it goes through the trouble to define sports teams can be interpreted to mean that a sports score function might appear in the future.
As far as the ESPN angle goes, Coleman decided, just for giggles, to contact ESPN to see if he could get access to its recently opened API for sports scores. They replied politely in the negative, but said that jailbroken apps were just not something that they were willing to support. “As you can imagine,” the letter says, “ESPN works closely with apple on many fronts.”
This is exactly the kind of addition that I first conjectured about back in October. It’s likely that we won’t be seeing an API for developers as the first signs of Siri expansion, but additions to its native capabilities:
Instead it is more likely that we will see Apple announcing deals with more information providers that will give Siri additional pools of data from which to give answers. Imagine a deal with ESPN for sports scoring or fantasy points, or a tie in with Fandango so that Siri can read you off the movie times at a requested theater.
While some assumed that an API wouldn’t be long in coming, there has been nothing from Apple yet and everything that we’re hearing puts that out beyond iOS 6 territory.
As the iPhone 4S has sold millions of devices, Apple has been gathering information about how people use it and it will use that data to refine how Siri interacts in order to make it more natural and more effective. You can bet that it is also tro