There's a new over-the-air update rolling out for the international Samsung Galaxy S III (aka Galaxy S3 GT-i9300) this evening. The OTA message identifies it as a "stability update," but what it also does is remove local (on-device) search functionality in the phone's built-in Google Search app. The new version -- XXBLG6 -- is a relatively recent build, having been cooked just a few days ago on Jul. 20. A new baseband version, XXLG6, is also included, but we haven't noticed any other changes thus far.
Following legal action by Apple, which temporarily resulted in the Galaxy Nexus being banned in the U.S., Samsung has taken to pre-emptively disabling the ability to search within on-device data (like contacts and applications) on some U.S. Galaxy S3's. However, the decision to kill local search on the unlocked international model -- which isn't sold in the U.S. -- is a little perplexing, not least because Apple has yet to challenge Sammy over local search in the EU or UK, where the GT-i9300 is sold.
What's more, marking this solely as a "stability" update seems a little underhanded, as users aren't being informed that the latest OTA disables functionality which was included with their original purchase. Nevertheless, local search is now gone on the international Galaxy S3, a decision which makes Samsung's leading smartphone a little less smart. We're sure folks are working on hacking local search back in as we speak, just as we're sure Apple will pursue some other tactic in its efforts to block the S3 from sale.
If you're down with preemptively crippled search functionality, you can grab the 27MB OTA package through Samsung's software updates menu on the phone, or through the Kies desktop app.