Sprint Samsung Galaxy S III Update Nerfs Unified Search to Avoid Sales Injunction

Yesterday’s security update for Samsung Galaxy S III phones running on the Sprint network sure seems to be adding a lot of protection to the handsets — at least for Samsung and Google. So far, the only major change noticed by users is that the Google search bar no longer returns local search results, only Web content.

Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus was recently subjected to a short sales ban for its unified search capabilities, which Apple holds a patent for in the United States. An update for the Nexus nixed unified search, and now Samsung seems to be pushing out a similar patch to its Galaxy S III phones in order to ward off a possible injunction on its newly released flagship phone. Apple has already started motions to block sales of the Galaxy S III in the U.S.

Android Central first reported on the issue after hearing users complain in the site’s Galaxy S III forum. A quick check at the XDA and Sprint forums shows similar complaints. Android Authority managed to confirm with an in-house Galaxy S III that the Sprint update indeed killed off unified search.

“We’re looking at a dumbed down search feature that lets users access only web results when looking for stuff on the device,” Android Authority’s Chris Smith writes. “Anything else that’s stored on the handset (contacts, applications, messages, etc) does not show up anymore.”

Given the litigation-dodging nature of the patch, we wouldn’t be surprised if similar “Security updates” hit Galaxy S III handsets on other networks sometime soon.

If you’ve come to rely on local search results and can’t bear to give them up, the tricky guys and gals at the XDA forums have already figured out a workaround in the link above, which involves sideloading the googlequicksearchbox.apk file.  It’s a quick and simple fix that doesn’t require rooting your phone. Most users across the various forums say it works like a charm, but one person ran into some stability issues, so as always, sideload at your own risk.

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