Samsung has reportedly removed the unified search function from its flagship Galaxy S III Android smartphone, possibly as a pre-emptive measure again further lawsuits from Apple.
Apple recently won an injunction against the sale of Google and Samsung's Galaxy Nexus handset in the US, with the relevant 'Siri' patent covering unified search. Google has promised to work around that patent in the Android 'Jelly Bean' 4.1 update.
Apple has not gone after the Galaxy S III, which is further away from getting a Jelly Bean update. However, the device now seems to have lost its unified search function anyway.
According to an Android Central report on Tuesday, a "security" update on Monday meant that users could no longer search for on-device content as well as web content through the omnipresent Google search bar.
That said, the report also noted that there were ways to retrieve and reinstall the older version of that search bar, which does provide unified search.
In the US, where software patents are allowed, it is possible for a company such as Apple to have a patent covering the concept of unified search. As Apple does not license out its patents, that effectively blocks anyone else from letting their users search for things in multiple places at once.
However, in the EU it is much harder for companies to get software patents, and Apple does not have an equivalent to the 'Siri' patent here.