Normally when I hear about patent cases, I don’t think too much of the personal implications that it will have on my smartphone directly. In most cases, a workaround for the “infringement” is found, and I normally notice little to no difference in how my phone performs. But this case is a bit different, as it affects a function that I actually use pretty often. Apple is up to its tricks again, and was recently successful in getting the Galaxy Nexus temporarily banned in the US, all while questioning the universal search function on the device. It is very likely that due to the result of this trial, Samsung has now been forced to remove the universal search function from their devices, and an OTA update (for Sprint and AT&T) has began rolling out to disable in for the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Android Central originally reported that the update was being disguised as a “security update” (that’s **ked up, but apparently it does also include security fixes), and a Sprint official confirmed that the update would disable the function in an email to Phone Scoop:
"The new software update does disable the universal search function on Galaxy S III".
AT&T has also followed suit, and are rolling out an update for the radio and to remove the search function. Although the Galaxy Nexus was the device in question, I’m guessing Samsung wanted to firstly make sure that its newest flagship device will be “safe”, which explains why it’s receiving the “update” first.
So basically, if you receive the update and try to search for a contact, app, or song with the Google search bar, you’ll only receive web results. Samsung has not confirmed that the Apple lawsuit is the reason behind the move, but given the timing of this happening, it certainly makes sense that it is.
But it’s not just the Galaxy S3, as Google and Samsung are currently working on a patch to disable it from the Galaxy Nexus as well.
It’s times like these where I’m glad I have a rooted Nexus, as I’m sure the dev community will do all they can to keep this function working. According to The Verge, unrooted owners who have received the update should still be able to download the old Google Quick Search Box and install it after the update to keep the function, but it’s unknown how long that app will be available for them to download.