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Samsung Galaxy S3 loses local search, Apple to blame?

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is losing local search from the main search box through contacts, apps and other stuff on the phone.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is losing its ability to search from the main search box through contacts, calendars and apps and other stuff on your phone. Is Apple to blame?

The new software update removes local search from the Google Search box built into the phone. That's local as in searching the stuff on the phone, not searching for things in your local area like cash machines, pharmacies or underground fighting dens.

Previously, when you search your phone the results are a mix of results from your phone, such as contacts and apps, with Web results. That makes it easy to search everything from one search box.

Why then would Samsung remove such a handy feature, you may well ask. The technlogy involved is at issue in a legal dispute with Apple in the US, but not here in Europe.

Apple and Samsung are locked in a legal scrap waged in courtrooms around the world. The general subject of the argument is Apple's contention that Samsung has copied the design of the iPad and iPhone, while Samsung counters that Apple has infringed on its patents, like copyright for technology.

Both sides are waving patents at each other -- in a tiff one judge described this week as "ridiculous" -- but the specific patents being fought over vary in different countries. The local search patent in question here isn't one of those at issue in the UK and Europe, which means Samsung is either being overcautious or just doesn't want Europeans doing something Americans can't. Apart from pronouncing "garage" properly, obviously.

The new software, version XXBLG6, is described as a "stability update", even though removing features makes it seem more like a downdate.

We've asked Samsung for a comment but have yet to hear back. Meanwhile, if you want to go ahead and update -- sorry, downdate -- the new firmware is a 27MB download, which you can find in the updates menu on your phone or in the Kies desktop app.

Have you got the update? Would you miss local search? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.