Those looking to buy an e-reader or a tablet this holiday might want to reconsider the Nook Color. The full-color e-reader will be getting even more tablet-like features thanks to an upgrade to Android 2.2 coming this January. Barnes & Noble representatives spoke with SmartphoneMag.com about the update, which will turn the e-reader into something even closer to an Android tablet, and a cheap one at that. The Nook Color costs about $250.
Android 2.3 is what’s happening, but this is still an exciting upgrade as it will finally also allow access to a traditional Android home screen and even enable the Android Market. In other words, it should work just like an Android tablet, Kindle app and all.”
“The 2.2 update, or overhaul if you prefer, will give you access to a retooled Android Market, the typical Android home screen and even has pinch zooming with the browser,” said Steve Green of SmartphoneMag. “The Android Market app was still under development and was not on the device to see. I was told that Nook users may not have access to the full market. The Nook I looked at had apps loaded via the SD card slot and seemed to run fine. The device will still give you access to all of your Nook material via the current interface that will be swicthable for the user.”
A switchable interface? Interesting. The main reason for the update is to spruce up performance and battery life, but Barnes & Noble doesn’t seem to be shying away from classification as a tablet. If the device has full Android Market support, it can hardly be called an e-reader anymore.
“Standard Android applications can run on the device, but we are working with developers to create Nook-specific applications using our SDK,” said a B&N spokesperson. “Those will be available via the Barnes & Noble e-book store in early 2011.”
Anyway, the long and short of it is, if you buy the Nook Color don’t expect it to become a full-fledged Android tablet. But do expect it to become more functional, get some tweaks to its interface, and perhaps offer some performance improvements.