Barnes & Noble has released a firmware update for the NOOK Tablet, killing the ability to side-load apps from 3rd-party markets.
While Amazon is pushing an update for the Kindle Fire that nukes current and potentially future root access, Barnes & Noble has unleashed v1.4.1 of its software for the NOOK Tablet that kills root access too. To make matters worse, the firmware update also removes the ability to side-load apps not purchased from the B&N Shop.
That said, the good news is that non-B&N apps already installed on the device won't be affected. The bad news is that Barnes & Noble has now turned its full-blown Android tablet into a color e-reader with benefits, and many owners aren't happy with the lock-down.
"Barnes & Noble is providing a free software update for NOOK Tablet that provides minor enhancements based on early customer feedback," the company writes. "The software update will be automatically downloaded to devices that are registered and connected to Wi-Fi, beginning the week of December 19th. There's no need for you to take any action to receive the update."
Thanks to the update, Barnes & Noble customers will be cut off from the hundreds of thousands of Android apps currently available, limiting them to around 2,000 apps offered in the B&N Shop. At this point, consumers may be better off ditching the device and picking up the cheaper Amazon Kindle Fire which, at this point, allows the side-loading of non-Amazon apps. Even more, Amazon launched its Appstore with 3,800 apps back in March, and even offers an app for free every day.
According to The Ebook Reader, consumers will get an error from the package installer when trying to install non-B&N apps on the NOOK Tablet after this latest update, saying that the device only accepts B&N NOOK Store software. To add insult to injury, the company still allows end-users to load ebooks on the NOOK Tablet purchased from other sellers -- a blatant contradiction in the eyes of Barnes & Noble customers.
"Guess it’s time to post a rooting guide to get 3rd party apps back, not to mention the Android Market," The Ebook Reader writes. Honestly, consumers shouldn't have to seek root options -- it's their device whether it's an iPhone or a NOOK Tablet, and they should be able to install legally purchased 3rd-party software.