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Mobile Google slips scores to sports fans

Not everyone knew it, but Google lets U.S. sports fans check sports scores live as games progress through its search engine.

It might be news to you, but mobile device users can find up-to-date sports scores through Google's search engine.

Derrick Eckhardt of the RotoNation fantasy-sports blog noticed the score of the Mets-Dodgers game displayed at Google on his BlackBerry on Sunday and shared a screenshot of the box score. He dug up some tidbits about Googlers showing some interest in the sports category, but it turns out the scoring service actually isn't new.

Google's mobile search service shows how well the Red Sox are faring in Tuesday's game.
Google's mobile search service shows how well the Red Sox are faring in Tuesday's game. James Martin/CNET

It turns out Google actually launched the service a little over a year ago for mobile users in the United States, though Google didn't announce it, said spokesman Michael Kirkland. When people type a team name into the search box, the service shows frequently updated scores for professional football, basketball, baseball, and hockey games, as well as for college basketball, he said.

"The use case we imagine is somebody out and about who's got to get the Mets score with the minimum number of clicks and inputs on a 12-key keypad," he said. Google obtains the data legally through undisclosed content providers, he added.

He wouldn't comment on any plans to offer the service to Web searchers using PCs, though. Curiously, because Apple's iPhone uses an ordinary search site, iPhone customers actually can't get the service, he added.

Nor would Kirkland comment on the possibility of Google gradually expanding from a search engine to a much more general-purpose Internet portal. Sports is one of the obvious specific areas of focus.

The results are part of Google's Onebox technology, which treats the search box as a command input field that can be used to extract specific results such as answers to math calculations, plane flight details, package tracking, and the time in London.

Mobile users also can get less up-to-date game scores through the Google SMS text-messaging service. Sending a text message with the team name will return recent scores and the schedule of the next game.