Samsung Galaxy S3 Update on Sprint Disables Universal Search

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S III is finally arriving at mobile retailers, and if you’ve got one of the devices on Sprint, you could soon find your phone with less functionality. According to a Wednesday report from PCWorld, users have reported that the phone’s universal search feature disappears following a security update for the Android-based device.

Universal search allows users to search through all their phones data. However, with the new update implemented, the search simply looks for things online, via Google’s search bar.

So why the loss of the feature? It all could have to do with patents. The same news story by PCWorld noted that the update came after a temporary sales ban enforced on the Google Galaxy Nexus smartphone. That device also happened to be manufactured by Samsung.

At the heart of the dispute with iPhone creator Apple is a patent relating to the universal search feature. Simply removing it via an update could help Samsung bypass any further court-enforced sales bans on other Samsung devices aside from the Galaxy Nexus.

On Monday, a report by the BBC noted that the sales ban on the Nexus had since been lifted. However, further threat of another ban looms. “Samsung can now sell its Nexus phones again, but may find that the ban is reintroduced within days, effectively killing most of its market potential in the US,” commented patent consultant Florian Mueller in the BBC report.

Mueller also noted that Apple could go after the popular S3. “But the bigger issue here is that other handsets – including Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S3 – also offer the same disputed feature and Apple may aggressively enforce this patent against these devices as well, depending on the court’s upcoming decision,” Mueller continued in the same news story.

So will killing the universal search feature help Samsung avoid further sales bans? That remains to be seen. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is expected to be released on wireless carrier Verizon Thursday.