updated 03:05 pm EST, Tue December 14, 2010
Nook Color getting Android 2.2 in tablet push
Barnes & Noble should turn the Nook Color into a full tablet in January, a spokesperson said last week. The device will switch from 2.1 today and give many regular Android device features, including the home screen, Android Market access and multi-touch in the web browser. Users will have the option of switching between the regular Nook front end and the Android UI, SmartphoneMag was told.
The swap may limit the number of apps that reach the Nook due to the platform differences, although an initial test didn't show any problems. It would likely mark an end to Barnes & Noble's Apple-style curation, where it only allowed apps it thought would work well. Performance may be an issue as scrolling is still relatively sluggish, although the firmware is currently in beta and has a small chance at improving.
The changeover could have a significant impact on the Nook, which was consciously limited to being primarily an e-reader to help reach its $249 price. As a tablet, it could serve as the first widely available budget Android slate in the US and serve as more direct alternative to an iPad. Other devices in similar price ranges have emerged, such as the Velocity Micro Cruz Reader, but have usually had either limited reach or else were imports of low-grade Chinese models.
The Nook Color is so far available both in the bookseller's chain as well as Best Buy and Walmart, the last two of which both sell iPads.