The thing is, the update also brought a number of system stability tweaks with it, and so it was also rolled out to the international version of the GS III. The problem is that obviously no one bothered to get rid of the "remove local search feature" effect of the update, so international users quickly found out that their devices too lack the function after the update.
Apparently, Samsung has now acknowledged the mistake and has promised that a fix that will restore the functionality will be coming in the following days. Here's the official statement from a Samsung spokesperson:
"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."
It seems everything will soon be back to normal in Samsung town.