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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has begun to upload the latest version of its Android system to users’ smartphones, but the update doesn’t appear to have amended an aspect of the system that caused Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone to be banned from sale in the U.S.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) filed for and was last week granted an injunction against Nexus sales in the U.S. as it fought a patent battle with Samsung. Apple complained that Samsung had infringed a patent for integrated search functionality, which Apple was granted in December by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apple owns the rights to the idea of gathering search results from a variety of sources using different techniques, and then presenting them in a “unitary interface.”
Although the restriction was later lifted, there were reports that Google would alter Android to side-step the patent, restricting its quick-search and voice-search facilities to web-based results. But Android 4.1 further challenges Apple’s patent with a number of new features, including Google’s answer to Siri.
Google says it has improved Voice Search so that it can display answers to spoken questions, sourcing the information from Wikipedia, the CIA World Factbook, and Freebase, a community-run knowledge database. The Android update, known as Jelly Bean, also introduces Google Now, which is designed to offer information without the user having to actively trigger a query.
“Google Now tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, or your favorite team’s score as they’re playing,” Google said in an update to the Nexus page on its Google+ social network.
Both features are potentially in breach of Apple’s integrated search patent.
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