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B&N Nukes App Side-Loading on NOOK Tablet

By - Source: The Ebook Reader | B 23 comments

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.

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  • 12 Hide
    TheCapulet , December 21, 2011 2:19 AM
    B&N has shown it's anti-consumer practices long before now. It limits it's Nook software in huge ways on other android devices already, even going as far as not letting said devices view nook content already purchased. (Such as magazine content) Even when said content was purchased before they started locking things down.

    Do NOT buy anything from B&N, hardware or software. There are too many better alternatives for the same or better prices.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    TheCapulet , December 21, 2011 2:19 AM
    B&N has shown it's anti-consumer practices long before now. It limits it's Nook software in huge ways on other android devices already, even going as far as not letting said devices view nook content already purchased. (Such as magazine content) Even when said content was purchased before they started locking things down.

    Do NOT buy anything from B&N, hardware or software. There are too many better alternatives for the same or better prices.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 2:24 AM
    Can the Nook Color still be rooted? Is it possible to avoid the firmware update on the Nook tablet?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 3:25 AM
    Introducing the Nook Tablet Forum at http://nooktabletforum.com/. Please come by and join the community for the latest news, reviews, apps and discussion!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 4:47 AM
    Then why use android? Create your own simple ecosystem. This is beyond retarded.
  • 8 Hide
    td854 , December 21, 2011 6:16 AM
    This doesn't make any sense, this is like buying a PC and installing your own optical drive into it and finding out that you can't use it because of an automated bios update disabled it so you have to buy software from the manufacturer's own online store. This kind of crap should be illegal.
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , December 21, 2011 7:16 AM
    No, not really. When you purchased the Amazon or B&N tablets - you agreed to the EULA.

    Same when you buy a PC with Windows. Of course, not everyone follows the rules to the letter.

    The silly thing is that (A) 7" tablets are coming down in price and approaching the $200 price - so in that case, just buy a NON Amazon/B&N tablet and not worry about it.

    There may have been issues of people rooting the devices, damaging them - then sending then back under warranty. Who knows...?

    You want a free and open OS, the only choice is LINUX and Android... and WebOS.
  • 5 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , December 21, 2011 9:14 AM
    @belardo You ever heard of the saying "possession is 9/10ths of the law?"

    There's a reason for that. You can't actually damage a device when you root it, unless you've overclocking the processor in it, or pull the power while data is writing.
    Software re-flashing is a piece of cake for B&N if you brick the device, which if the root is done properly won't happen.

    The reason we're upset is because we're tired of companies removing functionality from their products- functionality that doesn't hurt the company providing the hardware.

    We're tired of companies seeking to exert control over the hardware that they don't actually own anymore. We bought it, and it is up to US, not them, to decide how it is used. We can use their software package, or we can use what WE want. And it's not up to them to tell us we shouldn't be able to do that.

    Speaking of which... I'm certain that there will be a jailbreak for that too: a hacked update that removes that patch.
  • 5 Hide
    freggo , December 21, 2011 10:40 AM
    Borders went under by not listening to what their consumers wanted; B&N may as well follow them.
    Who in his right mind wants a 'tablet pc' that is restricted in this fashion ?
    Imagine a TV set than can receive CBS and FOX, but not NBC.
    Or a car that runs only with gas from BP, but not some low price competitor.

    That's what happens when overcompensated board room members make decisions without sticking their heads out of the windows every once in a while to smell where the wind is blowing from.
  • -1 Hide
    house70 , December 21, 2011 10:46 AM
    Ever since SONY opened this can of worms it's been getting worse and worse.


    Hey, this rhymes!

    But really, why take a nice OS and slaughter it like that? Shame on B&N, Amazon and the like.
    Don't lose faith in the devs out there; I bet a solution is already in the works.
  • 2 Hide
    classzero , December 21, 2011 1:00 PM
    That's too bad, I was considering purchasing one of these. Looks like I will not be getting one now.
  • -2 Hide
    lebronjames , December 21, 2011 1:07 PM
    for those not willing to root it, you should have bought a playbook which allows you to install native paid apps you download online with out any hacking and through your homes wireless network. Also now the playbook has just as many apps as those other cheap 7 inchers.

    what a win for the playbook a secure OS that doesn't mind if you install pirated apps.
  • 1 Hide
    STravis , December 21, 2011 1:52 PM
    LuckyDucky7We bought it, and it is up to US, not them, to decide how it is used. We can use their software package, or we can use what WE want. And it's not up to them to tell us we shouldn't be able to do that.Speaking of which... I'm certain that there will be a jailbreak for that too: a hacked update that removes that patch.


    Totally agree with the above statement; however all these companies (B&N, Amazon, etc) are in the business of selling media and if you don't buy the media from them, then they lose $$$. I guess the question is this: how much (in %) of the target audience did the annoy by removing these features? I would suspect that it's a fairly small % of techies - the typical user wouldn't care.
  • 0 Hide
    internetlad , December 21, 2011 3:20 PM
    TheCapuletB&N has shown it's anti-consumer practices long before now.


    Buying a B&N e-Reader to root it and turn it into a less-than-stellar tablet was NOT what they had in mind while making this device. I've found nothing but joy in shopping at brick-and-mortar B&N Stores (relaxed atmosphere, staff that are nerdy, but not so to the point of annoyance, decent prices)

    B&N's business is selling Books, not tablets.

    If you don't like it, buy a kindle fire, because the nook isn't for you.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 3:44 PM
    i just froze the update manager and continue to run 1.4 version...no worries on my part, the main problem with the nook tablet is, not enough apps at the right price in their Store, they really need to up their app game(ie website/app store) in order to compete with amazon/android markets...

    i check amazon market once a day for their free app, install it if i want it on my nook tablet, check the normal android market for apps,,,,

    i have YET to OPEN the nook store..that is how bad it is.
  • 0 Hide
    anonymous32111 , December 21, 2011 8:19 PM
    internetladBuying a B&N e-Reader to root it and turn it into a less-than-stellar tablet was NOT what they had in mind while making this device. I've found nothing but joy in shopping at brick-and-mortar B&N Stores (relaxed atmosphere, staff that are nerdy, but not so to the point of annoyance, decent prices)B&N's business is selling Books, not tablets.If you don't like it, buy a kindle fire, because the nook isn't for you.


    You do realize that NOOK and Kindle Fire now have the same problem?

    I'd recommend buying something that's not a Fire or Nook if you want Tablet functionality.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 9:10 PM
    Sounds like something Apple would do. Why is it we cry foul at B&N for locking their hardware. But say nothing about Apple who has been doing this forever? I think the B&N Tablet is as much a turd as the Kindle Fire for anything but a reader first and a occasional user of a browser and a couple apps. What do you expect for the price? If you want a tablet buy a tablet. If you want a reader buy a reader.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 23, 2011 9:11 PM
    I am uploading a workaround video that follows the XDA forums. Many people have asked for a step by step procedure. Will finish uploading in a few hours http://www.youtube.com/user/albertcwertz?feature=mhee
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , December 24, 2011 2:30 PM
    LuckyDucky7@belardo You ever heard of the saying "possession is 9/10ths of the law?"There's a reason for that. ~ ~ We're tired of companies seeking to exert control over the hardware that they don't actually own anymore. We bought it, and it is up to US, not them, to decide how it is used. We can use their software package, or we can use what WE want. And it's not up to them to tell us we shouldn't be able to do that.Speaking of which... I'm certain that there will be a jailbreak for that too: a hacked update that removes that patch.

    I understand where you are coming.... when SONY killed of LINUX support for the PS3 - was not impressive. Sure some were using them as cheap mini-computers, but that was somewhat advertising and not many people are ACTUALLY doing it.

    I agree, what you BUY should be yours... but that is not always the case, no? My Samsung Android cell phone costs people $1 nowadays... but to buy an unlocked version is about about $500. I had a choice (somewhat) - $500 for more flexibility (such as uninstalling carrier crap) or save $500. I simply hide the carrier junk and be on my way.

    My point is this... There are other tablets that costs $250~300 with a bit more features that you can root to your hearts content. Amazon, B&N makes tablets, sold at a loss - to make profit from their online stores. The apps are more vetted (censored) and they give out some goodies for buying their stuff. They are not out to cater to those who want to buy a cheap tablet to convert into something else.

    Again, I think YOU should be able to do whatever you want with your Kindle or NOOK (aside from piracy) - take it apart, add lights to it, interfaces, etc... but when you bought the device which has AUTO-UPDATES built in (like many things in todays world) and has an EULA, then you are at their mercy. In the MS OS (XP and beyond) the EULA states that Microsoft has the rights to GO INTO YOUR COMPUTER (from the internet) and modify, delete anything they want with you knowing about it or not. If you are using Windows, you have already agreed to this.

    I just checked on Newegg, there are 22 7" tablets that sell for $100~275, most with cameras - all with Android except for a single $250 Playbook. These don't have the limitations of a Kindle, but many are cheap $150 junk... yes, for $130, you can get a Gingerbread tablet with a camera. But most of them don't have the quality of a Kindle.

    So yes, you have a choice... Amazon didn't put a gun to your head to buy their tablet. More than 99% of the people who buy Kindles are not going to hack it. I don't know why they bother - perhaps its a security issue.

    Sell what you have, buy something that suits your needs.
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , December 24, 2011 2:35 PM
    PS: oops - I got Kindle mixed up with the NOOK - but the rules applies to both. Amazon may do this as well at any time.

    Also in ending. A year or so ago, B&N was public that they didn't CARE that people were rooting the NOOKs. They were happy if people bought them (they at least broke even) - its better to sell something than nothing... right?

    They should have warned people (did they) that an update would effect root access.

    And of course, we know that it'll be hacked anyway...

    I stand by my statements - both sides have a valid point and rights.
  • 0 Hide
    wkc2001 , December 26, 2011 12:49 AM
    The terms of service addressthe device as "your Nook" not "their Nook". When I bought it the Nook could side-load. A month and a half later it no longer does this through no fault of mine. It was the direct result of a deliberate act on the part of B&N.

    They took something from me and many other who bought these devices when the were first released and now are past our return period. Anyway they had no right to take away capability. Do the subscribe to the Joe Stalin approach to customer service?

    I complained and they replied that they don't "recommend" that Nook owners load unapproved apps - no kidding - the outright prohibited it on "my Nook" after the fact. For that matter they violated their own EULA by changing the rules. The only thing that 1.4.1 does is to allow them to levereage the sale of a tablet to insure themselves exclusive access to the ebook and app market for use on said tablet. If Microsoft had done that we would probably see them being hauled into Federal court.

    The sold/sell this device as a tablet and as such it is my opinion that this is a gross mirepresentation and is motivated more by money than "security".
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