03
May
1

It's no secret that I've long been against calling the Nook and Kindle Fire series "Android tablets," as neither is more than a glorified e-reader to me. Today, Barnes & Noble dropped a bomb on that way of thinking, as it announced that the full array of Google Play services will now be available on the Nook HD and Nook HD+, essentially turning them into full-fledged tablets.

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Moving forward, all Nook HD and HD+ tablets will ship with Google services – including the Play Store, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, and the like – but for those who already own HD/HD+ units, the new features will be showing up via an OTA update to v2.1.0, which should begin rolling out today. For the impatient among you, B&N has full instructions on its site to manually download and flash the update (HD, HD+).

This move should help put the current Nook HD series back on the map after it has struggled to keep up with the Kindle Fire HD in recent months. The success of the Fire HD series is in no small part due to the vast ecosystem that Amazon has built with the Amazon Appstore and other branded services, so access to the Play Store and Google services should give Barnes & Noble a substantial amount of traction to fight back.

For more information on the update and how you can apply it, hit the source links below.

Barnes & Noble: Nook HD, Nook HD+

Barnes & Noble Announces Google Play on NOOK® HD and NOOK® HD+

The Best in Reading and Now Over 700,000 Android Apps and Games, Millions of Songs, Movies, TV Shows and More, Plus Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, Google Searchand Google Maps on Stunning 7- and 9-inch Tablets

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--NOOK Media LLC, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced it is expanding its extensive catalog of reading and entertainment content with the addition of the popular Google Play digital content experience on its acclaimed NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ devices. With Google Play on NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, customers have access to more than 700,000 Android apps and games, millions of songs and more. Barnes & Noble’s highly acclaimed lightweight high-definition 7- and 9-inch tablets will also include popular Google services like the Chrome browser, Gmail, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps.

“By adding Google Play to NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, we are offering our customers even more great entertainment on our award-winning tablets,” said William Lynch, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble. “Now with access to more than 700,000 apps and the best reading experience available, NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ are must-see products for entertainment lovers looking for high-quality tablets at incredibly low prices.”

Always a great value, NOOK HD, now with Google Play, is available starting at just $199 and NOOK HD+ starts at only $269. NOOK products are available at the nearly 700 Barnes & Noble stores, NOOK.com and leading retailers.

Google Play and the other Google services will be available to all new and existing NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ customers in the US and UK at no cost through an automatic over-the-air update that will roll out to all devices connected to Wi-Fi beginning today. Customers who would like to enjoy the major new software update immediately can learn more at www.NOOK.com/support or www.NOOK.co.uk/support.

NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ Features

More than 700,000 Android Apps and Games: Choose from more than 700,000 great apps including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Temple Run, ESPN, TED, Netflix and so many more, all ready to enjoy right away. The NOOK Store continues to feature a wide selection of thousands of high-quality NOOK Apps tailored for the devices including the highest-quality educational apps for kids through age 12, all organized by subject area and easily searchable.

Millions of songs: The addition of Google Play Music lets customers browse millions of songs, discover new artists and fill NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ with favorite tracks to enjoy anytime. Google Play also lets people store 20,000 songs from their personal collection in the cloud for free and stream them to their NOOK HD, NOOK HD+ and other devices.

Favorite Movies & TV Shows: Choose from thousands of movies and TV shows including new releases, the latest episodes, award-winning films and past seasons from favorite TV series. Stream movies and TV shows to watch instantly on NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ or make them available offline to watch later, even when not connected to Wi-Fi.

The Very Best in Reading: The NOOK Store offers millions of books and magazines to choose from. Sample any book free or choose from over 1 million free titles. Barnes & Noble offers thousands of best-selling magazines and newspapers from around the world, all in spectacular HD and delivered right to NOOK as soon as they come out. Enjoy free 14-day trials on any newsstand title and get expert recommendations on what to read next from the reading specialists at NOOK through NOOK Channels. With NOOK Catalogs, browse top catalogs like Pottery Barn and L.L.Bean delivered right to the device and virtually tear out magazine and catalog pages and save them in a NOOK Scrapbook.

Faster Web Browsing with Chrome: As Web browsing continues to be among the most popular tablet activities, NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ now feature the Chrome browserfor fast start up and page loading and an unlimited number of tabs open at once. Customers can even sync bookmarks across any device with Chrome.

Google Search, Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps: Customers will have instant access to Google Search, Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps, now built in to NOOK HD or NOOK HD+. Sync calendars across multiple devices and check email from any account including Exchange, Yahoo! and Hotmail.

Additional great tablet features include:

  • Stunning HD Displays: Crisp text and beautiful graphics make books and magazines stunning to read. With NOOK HD’s highest resolution of any 7-inch HD tablet and Full HD at 1080p on NOOK HD+, videos and games look life-like from any angle, with rich color, deep contrast and minimal glare.
  • Light and Portable: Weighing in at only 11.1 ounces, NOOK HD was designed to fit naturally in an adult or child’s hand for hours of enjoyment. And at just 18.2 ounces, NOOK HD+ is the lightest tablet of its kind – more than 20 percent lighter than iPad 3 – making it the perfect companion for movie watching, long reads, Sunday crosswords or favorite games.
  • NOOK Profiles: A personalized experience instantly transforms the device in hand to any family member’s very own tablet so only they can see their own content.
  • NOOK Channels: This pioneering recommendation system provides an easy way to discover new titles by theme.
  • The ability to sync the last page read on any NOOK Book across NOOK devices and apps so customers don’t lose their place.
  • Expandable memory on the devices and free unlimited NOOK Cloud storage for all NOOK content.
  • Adjustable fonts, spacing and themes for a customized reading experience.
  • Powerful dual-core processors and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The NOOK Store offers more than 3 million titles in the US, with 2.5 million available in the UK, including more than 1 million free titles. For more information on NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, or any of NOOK’s innovative products and devices, customers can visit www.nook.com or www.nook.co.uk.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://twitter.com/michaelbuchko Michael Buchko Jr

    Okay, now how about removing the block on installing non-Barnes & Noble apps on the original Nook Tablet?

  • VonLaserface

    I feel sorry for anyone working the Nook desk at B&N over the coming weeks. I don't see cramming two ecosystems into one device making it easier to explain to gramma.

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      I don't envy them, but in my experience with the in-store B&N staff, they deserve everything they get.

  • Frank Fiorta

    I've had this for a minute haha, but nice to see it get official love

    • MrHaroHaro

      Just out of curiosity, are there any benefits to keeping the Nook UI over rooting and installing a ROM?

      • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

        Curious about this as well. I had/have an old Nook Color and the factory rom for a long time held a huge advantage in terms of speed and battery life (of course it was severely limited compared to CM).

      • Frank Fiorta

        Not really... I've been running 10.1 off the sd card. Only advantage is not using sd cards lol

  • Derail Doax

    Errrr. Sort of want. 9.0" screen, 16 GB, with Play Store only $269? WAY more tempting than an iPad Mini....

    • anonymous

      7 inch screen, 16 GB, with play store, only $199, sounds like you should buy the nexus 7

      • alex garcia

        nexus 7 has lower resolution display, so no.

    • Derail Doax

      Dude. Instantly relevant. 1440 x 900, 243 ppi screen, with expandable memory on the 7" tablet for $199? Pretty awesome.

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      Same here man, no shame in that. They do make some nice hardware, and the main thing missing was the full Play store and apps.

  • MrHaroHaro

    I can't help but think this will lead to some confusion among the average customer if they have to keep track of purchases on two app stores. It's a weird trade off. Sure they get more apps but they also undermine their own app store. Not to mention the previously mentioned customer confusion. But it's great for power users. But, are power users 1) interested in the Nook at all? 2) Probably just going to put CM10 on it anyway? Still this undermines the whole "sell at a loss make up for it selling content" model.

    I like Barnes & Noble and want them to do well (largely 'cause their former CEO and chairman went to my HS and spoke at our graduation) and serve as competition to Amazon in the long run. This makes the Nook more interesting to me, but can't help but feel this is a hail Mary sort of situation. I hope it pays off.

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      This definitely seems like it would destroy the sale of apps that are available in both places. However, the B&N app store could (and should) then focus on nook-specific apps that could take advantage of anything unique about the hardware or B&N ecosystem.

      FWIW, after going through the custom rom scene with the original NC, I would definitely consider just leaving the factory rom as long as play store access was there.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jetmac629 Robert McClellan

    Oddly, I just wrote an article on how Nook can turn around their flagging sales and one part of that solution was access to the full Google Apps market.
    Another part of the tablet side of our analysis was to make the OS optional, utilizing the Nook in-store help desk to apply flashable ROMS for CyanogenMod 10.1 and/or Windows 8 through the Micro-SD card slot. We'll see if that becomes a reality.
    The full article is here:
    http://blog.thirdscribe.com/2013/05/01/can-nook-be-saved/

  • Jeffrey Smith

    This news may be enough to sway me toward buying the Nook HD+. Are there any other SOLID 8.9"+ tablets in this price range, THAT ALSO HAVE A MICRO-SD SLOT (Hello Google/Amazon/Apple)? Oh, and it only costs $30 extra to go from 16GB to 32GB internal storage (Hello again Google/Apple)?

    B&N has had impressive specs on their hardware since the Nook Color. The absence of Google apps has been one of the few cons for me. Sure, I have CM on the Nook Color, but sometimes I would like something that works without all that extra effort.

  • Jeffrey Smith

    BTW, there's no "i" in Barnes & Noble

  • maria

    I lost all my bookmarks after the switch. Costumers should have been allowed to choose if we wanted this upgrade.

  • TylerChappell

    This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to keep the Nook line alive. They should have done it 2 years ago. They're sales suffered from the Kindle Fire, so now they're doing this. Too little too late.

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