Samsung strips international Galaxy S III local search with sneaky update

Samsung has pushed out a new OTA software update today for the international Galaxy S III, though while the firmware upgrade is in fact a feature downgrade, you wouldn't necessarily realize it before installing. Billed as a "stability" update by Samsung itself, the new software actually strips local search functionality from the Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone, just as Samsung has been doing with versions of the Galaxy S III in the US.

That means, once installed, you won't get search results from local content on the Galaxy S III mixed in with your web results. The change is a result of continuing litigation between Samsung and Apple, with the Cupertino firm holding a local search patent which has already been used to spank its Korean rival in the US.

Confusingly, that patent isn't actually one that has been cited in Apple's court proceedings against Samsung in markets where the international Galaxy S III GT-i9300 is sold. This seems to be a case of Samsung either pre-emptively removing it over an abundance of caution – perhaps no surprise given the recent sales ban in Europe of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 - or to simply bring all devices to the same level, even if that means some owners unnecessarily sacrificing features.

If you don't mind losing local search – or using a workaround – then there are already reports that the firmware does have a few benefits. Over at xda-developers there's talk of the system in general being faster, as well as ironing out some of the crackling issue with audio that some owners complained of.

[via Android Central]