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Barnes and Noble confirmed growing rumors this morning that it would bring apps, email, and other tablet features to the Nook Color.
The $250 Nook Color has been a curious entry since it was first announced in October: Barnes and Noble was marketing it as an ereader with tablet-like features, but it seemed clear from the hardware (and the fact it ran Android) that it was a tablet in ereader clothing. With the April update, the Nook Color will finally be able to live up to its potential as a tablet.
The rumors were first reported by CNet this morning, who noticed that the Home Shopping Network’s Nook Color page listed the April additions. Rumors that the Nook Color would be transformed into a tablet with a software update go back to shortly after the device’s release.
It’s unclear if the update will allow third-party developers to submit their own apps to work on the Nook Color. The company has previously denied that it would ever allow full access to Google’s Android Market, which would effectively make it the same as its more expensive Android table cousins. The Nook Store, as HSN’s site calls it, will offer apps like the popular game Angry Birds, and the Lonely Planet Phrasebook.
Other features that may pop up in the update include Adobe Flash support, as well as improvements to the Nook Color’s web browser. HSN’s site refers to a “full web experience” that will come in the April update that will allow users to watch online videos — that sounds like Flash to me.
Hackers have been enjoying a full tablet experience on the Nook Color since December. Now with recent hacking improvements, the Nook Color can even run Android 3.0 “Honeycomb,” Google’s tablet-centric OS.
I’m not sure what took Barnes and Noble so long to deliver the new features. At $250, the Nook Color is the most inexpensive tablet-like device on the market. The company would be better served embracing its tablet abilities — including opening up the device to the full Android Market — because it will likely have the price advantage for some time.
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