Thanks to a victory for Apple in a patent lawsuit against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus (the Nexus was banned from sale in the US temporarily), the Galaxy S3 is losing a small, but useful feature. The search functionality of Samsung smartphones — and possibly all Android phones — is about to regress.
Normally, when you use the built-in search box on an Android phone like the Galaxy S3, Google will display potential Web results as well as links to any apps or contacts you have on your phone that may relate. In essence, it ‘universally’ searches both the phone and the Web. It may sound like a small, insignificant feature, but a judge ruled that Apple owned the patent to that functionality, so now it must be removed from the Galaxy Nexus. Fearful of future lawsuits, Samsung is proactively removing the feature from its new flagship Galaxy S3 as well.
On our Sprint Galaxy S3, an update is already available. When installed, it will remove this functionality, according to Sprint reps who spoke with PhoneScoop. Android Central also reports that the AT&T version of the S3 will be updated shortly as well. We have no word on the T-Mobile, US Cellular, or Verizon editions, but we imagine the update will make its way through all carriers.
What a shame
This whole patent dispute has become bad for users and is now causing carriers to have to scramble to issue fixes that remove functionality from the phones they sell. It is a shame. Google has been creating “universal search” functionality throughout its Web products for a long time now, but since Apple possibly included this feature first on a phone, it’s now reason enough to block a device from sale. Until it can figure out a way to do its job, the US Patent and Trademark Office needs to stop issuing these broad, ridiculous patents. And companies like Apple need to lay off. Apple has copied major features from Android including its Notifications tray. It’s the nature of the business.