After Sprint has updated its Galaxy S3 version to replace the regular search feature with a dumber one – that’s showing only web results, with local results no longer displayed – the carrier confirmed that “unified search” is no longer available on the flagship device. The move can only be perceived as a preemptive measure from Samsung meant to deal with any potential Apple patent infringement claims.

Apple has already scored an injunction against the Galaxy Nexus in the U.S.  – the sales ban has been lifted in the mean time – thanks to its patent on unified search technology, and the South Korean company is probably not interested in seeing the same thing happen with its best-selling Galaxy S3 device in the region. When the Sprint update was rolled out we expected other U.S. versions to also have their search features downgraded to web only, and it looks like we were right.

The next Galaxy S3 flavor to receive the “dumb search” update in the country is AT&T. The update also brings a radio update, although it’s the search feature that we’re more interested in at this time. Sure, those of you that want to tinker with the device will have the option of restoring the regular search on the device on your own. But Samsung is apparently making sure that Galaxy S3 handsets come preloaded with web search only in the USA.

We’re probably going to see similar updates come from Verizon, T-Mobile in the near future while U.S. Cellular and C Spire could launch the device pre-loaded with the same web-only search functionality. It will certainly be interesting to see whether international Galaxy S3 versions will also get the dumbed down search update, but Samsung is not saying anything on the matter yet.

  • I just downloaded this thing and I’m hoping that when you say “radio update, “you mean that at&t is going to fix the wifi problem on this phone. I am NOT some poor shlub who doesn’t know how to setup wif. We have 3 different smartphones and about 4 different other various devices alle running on the wifi in my home, all running flawlessly. But this phone keeps on dropping wifi. So I hope fervently this update allows the phone to run longer than5 minutes without dropping its WiFi.fingers crossed!

    • anthutch

      There is a fix that seems to help. You would just navigate to the advamced wifi settings, then uncheck network notification & make sure that the “keep wifi on while sleep” is enabled. Hope that helps until we get a permanent fix.

      • anthutch, thanks!

        Delighted to report also that I ran the AT&T update and IT WORKS. As promised, it did nuke my Unified Search, but it also permanently fixed the WiFi drop outs. And for me, that’s what counts.
        Haven’t dropped a signal since the update. Miss the unified search, but not that much, honestly — and I’m sure it will be back in some guise as soon as Google’s engineers can suss out a way to do it without violating the court order. Arthur

  • Tiberius

    Have had my 32gb pebble blue s3 on sprint for 3 weeks now. Never had a problem with wifi.

  • Mei

    For local search, use Google’s “Gesture Search”, available at Play store. It’s pretty cool and it’s fast. I was able to get rid of a lot of icons with this tool. It pretty much search everything I have on the phone (you also can include/exclude categories to search on).