NOOK Color Firmware Update Brings Android Functionality

Two different models of Nook e-reader


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Since the original NOOK Color launched, Barnes & Noble has released a new line of NOOK devices manufactured by Samsung. These comprise of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK, the Samsung Galaxy Tab E Nook, and the budget-priced Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0.

With firmware update 1.2 the NOOK Color took big steps away from being an e-reader with a few extra functions toward being a bargain Android tablet. Barnes & Noble also introduced its own NOOK Apps store. There were under 150 apps on launch day, but essentials like Angry Birds is available for the NOOK Color! 

The feature list for the NOOK Color update included:

  • NOOK Apps, app store. Launch offerings included Epicurious, Oprah Mobile, QuickOffice and Lonely Planet audio phrasebooks, and Angry Birds.
  • Full-featured email client that supports POP and IMAP for popular email services like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL.
  • Adobe Flash Player support, providing access to YouTube and Flash animated websites.
  • NOOK Friends (beta), a social network for readers that enhances LendMe functionality.
  • Faster page turns and animations.
  • Enhanced reading experience with kid's Read and Playbooks and multimedia embedded instructional books (cookbooks, photography, etc.).

Barnes & Noble is rolled out the update to NOOK Color owners over their WiFi connection, but users could download the firmware update directly to their computers and load it onto their NOOK Color devices with a USB cable.

First Impressions

The update to the NOOK Color was an impressive one, and the added Android functionality made for a much more compelling NOOK experience. The NOOK Apps offerings were a little underwhelming at the start, but more developers and content was planned. Unfortunately, there was no comic book app available, which is something the NOOK Color's display is well-suited for. Pricing for apps was comparable to other platforms, with many of the apps set in the $0.99 to $1.99 price range, with some higher.

Email access is a nice feature, though users with a smartphone may not find it that big of an addition. For those who prefer to travel light, it may be more compelling if they leave behind their phones.

The web browser loaded content quickly. In preliminary testing, the NOOK Color did indeed handle Flash content, but YouTube content which hadn't been optimized for mobile browsing stuttered badly.

NOOK Firmware 1.2 was much more than a cosmetic update and made NOOK Color owners happy campers. It wasn't a significant change to the overall e-reader experience, however, so it didn't disrupt a user's reading experience by having to learn new interfaces or features. For those who were longing for more functionality and a Android functionality, it was a welcome update.