Yesterday, we learned about a new software update headed out to owners of the Galaxy S III on Sprint, the second-such for the handset since its debut. The release notes didn’t give us much to go on, so we did our best guesswork to try and suss out just what the update might address. Our thoughts at the time turned to Google Wallet, but it turns out there was a much higher-profile component to the update, as it brought the GS3 the same sort of Google Search modification that we’ve heard about Google preparing for the Galaxy Nexus to avoid Apple’s legal wrath.
Post-update, Sprint Galaxy S III owners report that their phones now only do a Google search when using the search bar, and don’t simultaneously check locally-stored data, like your contacts.
Previously, we had only heard of this kind of downgrade patch coming to the Galaxy Nexus, but now it seems that this could become endemic to Android, as manufacturers try to get ahead of Apple and any potential lawsuit.
Google still intends to dispute the validity of Apple’s claim to the patent, so this may all reverse course someday, but it could quickly become the norm until then.
At least some users are upset with Sprint and Samsung for releasing this as “Google security updates”. We can understand not feeling the need to go into intricate detail for relatively uninteresting bugfix-type changes, but not informing your users when their phones’ functionality is about to be downgraded does sound a bit underhanded.