The Barnes & Noble Nook is first and foremost an eBook reader. But it’s powered by Google Android and it has a color touchscreen display in addition to the e-Ink screen for reading eBooks. It’s kind of just been begging for a few apps beside the eBook reader, and today Banes & Noble pushed out a new firmware update for the Nook that starts to turn this eBook reader into a multfunction device.
Firmware version 1.3 includes a web browser, faster page turning, a few Android games, and a Read in Store feature. The Read in Store features sounds pretty awesome, since it will let you flip through the pages of any eBook available through the Barnes & Noble electronic store when you’re in a bricks and mortar store. The books will disappear from your device when you leave the store, so it’s kind of like sitting in the coffee shop at a Barnes & Noble with a stack of books you picked up from the shelves and checking them out to see if you want to purchase them to take home.
The web browser is clearly going to be a bit limited, since the Nook has an e-Ink display that can’t show color, and can’t play video. But now you can use the Nook to login to WiFi hot spots that require you to check a box on a web page first. And you can read newspaper web sites, blogs, or other content on the e-Ink display while using the color screen on the bottom of the device to navigate.
The first Android apps available for the Nook are Soduku and Chess. Hopefully we’ll see more apps in future updates.
Nook users can find instructions on applying the update at nook.com/update.