Galaxy S3 fix coming for 'inadvertent' search removal, Samsung promises

The company says it did not mean to remove the universal search feature from UK versions of its flagship Android handset. Did its British customers accidentally get caught in the crossfire of a US patent battle?

Samsung's removal of the universal search feature from its flagship Galaxy S III handset in the UK was accidental, Samsung has said.

The Android smartphone lost the feature a couple of weeks ago in a security update that came shortly after Apple won a US injunction against a different Samsung phone, the Galaxy Nexus. Universal search — the ability for one search to pull results from the web and on-device data — was central to that case, and Samsung said it was trying to work around the feature.

Samsung removed the universal search capability from Sprint versions of the Galaxy S III in the US, but there was no reason to remove the feature in the UK as well, which is why it came as a surprise when that happened. Now, Samsung has confessed to removing it in error.

"The most recent software upgrade for the Galaxy S III in the UK included the inadvertent removal of the universal search function. Samsung will provide the correct software upgrade within the next few days," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Although the patent war between Apple and Samsung is global in nature, different territories have different approaches to the patenting of ideas. The US allows software patents, which sometimes amount to having exclusive rights over concepts rather than technical implementations, but the EU is far more restrictive in allowing such rights to be granted.

ZDNet UK has asked Samsung to confirm whether UK Galaxy S III users became accidental casualties of the US patent tussle, but had not received a response at the time of writing.