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.