Barnes & Noble is beginning to roll out a software update for NOOK Color users today, bringing Google Android 2.2, Adobe Flash, and a third party app store called NOOK Apps.
The company is still pitching the NOOK Color first and foremost as an eBook reader, but new apps include news readers, reference materials, and games — including the ever-popular Angry Birds. Right now there are about 125 apps available including a mix of free and paid apps.
Thats’ a drop in the bucket compared to the Google Android Market which offers well over 100,000 apps, but it might be enough to give some users a reason not to root the tablet — and for less tech savvy customers who had no intention of rooting the NOOK Color (or even that it’s possible to do so), the NOOK Apps store is just another reason to consider the $250 tablet as an alternative to one trick ponies like the Amazon kindle.
The software update also adds some new default apps including an email app and a NOOK Friends app which makes reading a little more social by letting you see what your friends are reading and leave comments. the web browser has been improved, and the eBook reader supports in-page video and audio.
NOOK Color users can download NOOK Color v1.2 software from Barnes & Noble or wait for B&N to push an over-the-air update within the next few weeks.
Update: Some users ran into problems with the software update initially, but Barnes & Noble has rolled out a fix.