Nook Tablet Firmware Update 1.4.1 Closes Loophole to Install 3rd Party Apps

Nook Tablet No Apps

Barnes and Noble suck. They just issued an update for the Nook Tablet that effectively turns it from a full-blown Android tablet into a glorified color ereader with benefits.

The firmware update, version 1.4.1, closes the Nook Tablet off from installing Android apps from non-B&N sources. So now instead of having tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of apps available to load on the Nook, now users are stuck with only what B&N provides, about 2000 apps, some of which are 2-3 times what they sell for from other appstores.

What’s interesting is that all my sideloaded apps remain on the Nook Tablet after the update, but I cannot install any new apps. It just gives a warning after launching the package installer that only B&N apps from the Nook store can be loaded onto the device.

Ever since the Nook Color update came out with the closed door, I knew the Nook Tablet wasn’t safe; that’s why I have still yet to post a review of the Nook Tablet, and now I’m not sure that I will. If I could return it I would, but it’s been a month, and the return period is only 14 days. Guess it’s time to post a rooting guide to get 3rd party apps back, not to mention the Android Market.

I know B&N are just trying to maximize their bottom line, but this is ridiculous. Why allow users to load ebooks on the Nook purchased from other sellers, but now allow users to load apps from other sources? Amazon allows users to sideload apps on the Kindle Fire—that’s going to be a huge negative against B&N and the Nook going forward.

Personally, I don’t want anything to do with Barnes and Noble’s Nook appstore because it is a closed in system—they are going the Apple route. Buy apps from B&N and they will only work on Nook devices, effectively locking you in for life. Buy an app from the Amazon appstore or pretty much any other Android appstore and you can use them on whatever Android device you choose, now and in the future. Because of this, I would highly recommend not buying a Nook Tablet, not unless you want to stick with the Nook brand the rest of your tablet-using life.

I can’t believe B&N did this; there’s going to be some major fallout after this. You don’t release a product with the ability to load non-B&N apps and then close the door on owners a month later, even if it was an oversight to begin with. I think Barnes and Noble are making a big mistake by doing this.

Update: Check this post to learn How to Restore the Nook Tablet to 1.4.0 and Block OTA Firmware Updates.

29 Responses to “Nook Tablet Firmware Update 1.4.1 Closes Loophole to Install 3rd Party Apps”

  1. When I am in the market for another ereader/tablet I would have def. looked at the Nook Tablet….not any more. This is a huge mistake. I can see them going the apple route, but then the apps need to be reasonably priced. So now B&N are left with a budget tablet that costs more than other tablets that offer more apps at better prices. Bad move..bad move. I love my NC, but now have NO qualms about jumping ship to a more open platform like the Fire.

    Kiss of death for this so-called “tablet”. Now it is just a glorified ereader with good hardware. Shame.


  2. Thanks for the heads up on this. You say that your sideloaded apps are still on the nook after the update, but can you actually use them? It sucks that you can’t add new apps once the nook updates, but if I could at least keep using the ones I’ve already installed, that would ease the pain a little.

    Regarding returns, B&N seems to indicate that they’ve extended their return window for the holidays, at least according to this link:

    Basically it says that any nook purchased between November 15 and December 31 can be returned or exchanged up until January 31, 2012. Seeing as I purchased mine on the 16th, I may still return mine if this new update really cripples the device to the point where it serves no purpose.

    Just a heads up.

  3. Thanks for the conf on the update; I still wasn’t sure it was true.

    Hehe. I feel the same way about B&N. I got to this point after having the Nook Tablet for less than 2 weeks, so luckily I got to return it.

  4. Post on their Facebook walls (B&N and Nook) and tweet about it. Social media can turn the tide if enough people complain. I just posted on the B&N and Nook facebook pages.

  5. Yeah, the sideloaded apps still work, I just can’t load any new ones…

  6. I just checked barnes and noble’s facebook wall and all I see is their own lame, advertisery posts.

    I wonder if they’re blocking critical posts?

  7. They don’t even realize the sheer stupidity of that decision. What a shame.

  8. Looks like mine was deleted – right after someone wrote the snide comment “There are workarounds all over the internet. So BOO to people who can’t/won’t research and cry instead.”

  9. Never mind, it is still there. You have to click “Everyone” on the top of the wall, otherwise you only see B&N posts. Come on guys/gals, post!

  10. This doesn’t surprise me. Both B&N and Amazon want to sell devices that limit a user to their so-called “ecosystem”. I was almost ready to pull the trigger on the B&N tablet, but your previous post drawing attention to this issue gave me pause. In order to preserve my options, I purchased an Acer Iconia A100 tablet and I am enjoying my freedom of choice and the Aldiko reader app.

  11. The people most mad about this are probably the people most likely not to buy anything from its store.

  12. The biggest problem with the B&N “ecosystem” is that it is so small compared to Amazon and Apple plus they charge more per app. I am OK with a more or less closed ecosystem, but not one that is so small. The NC has been out for a year and the app selection is pathetic – so it seems unlikely developers will spend time developing with B&N unless it is easy to port a app between the major platforms.

  13. On the contrary. I own the Nook Color and like it, and every book that I have bought in the last year has been from B&N. I would have bought a Nook Tablet when I am ready to upgrade at some point – not any longer.

    I am sure that I am like other clients who currently have a Nook will now look at the Kindle Fire harder when they are in the market to replace their current tablet/ereader. That is where the problem lies (along with people that are looking at tablet/ereaders).

  14. Nathan, in the first sentence of the fourth paragraph of your article you stated, “Ever since the Nook Color update came out with the closed door, I knew the Nook Tablet wasn’t safe … .” I’m unclear which NC update you mean, though I presume it’s the latest, i.e., 1.4.1. Also, what is the door that has been closed on the NC by that update? I’ve been reading your articles, but I must’ve missed something. Perhaps the “closed door” is relevant only to using the NC rooted, rather than with a modded ROM, e.g., CM7.

    I recently bought two NCs; both have 1.3, but they’re running on CM7 ROMs, and will probably never again operate in native Nook mode. This should prevent them from updating automatically. I also set up a third NC for a neighbor, but manually updated it to 1.4.1, which apparently isn’t interfering with the CM7 ROM I made for her.

    Anyway, I’m glad I chose the NC over the Nook Tablet. B&N needs to welcome visitors to its garden and not brick them in once they’ve entered.

    • The firmware for the Nook Color is pretty much exactly the same as the Nook Tablet so what I meant by the “closed door” was for stock OS app installs; ROMs and rooting still works. Since they closed the door on the Nook Color’s firmware, I knew there would be no reason why they wouldn’t do the same for the Nook Tablet. The irony is when using ROMs and such, the B&N interface is completely hidden. If they would have just left 3rd party app installs alone then their stock OS would still be at the forefront.

  15. Is there a way to prevent the update? I’ve been informed that my secret xmas present is a Nook tablet.The Mrs got a week or so back so I’m guessing the update is not preinstalled.I’m not much in to apps and such but was intrigued when I heard you could put the kindle reader on it.Sometimes B&N doesn’t have what I want but Kindle does, so I have to strip the kindle drm and run it through caliber before I can read it on my old nook, and putting the kindle reader on a nook would make for a great reader for me. The only other thing I’ve found out about the tablet that annoys me is the inability to connect to ad hoc networks, be great if I could connect via my N8 when away from Wifi.

    • There will be ways to prevent the update; it’s hard to tell right now if they are working since you never know when the OTA update will come. I’ll keep you posted. There’s already a way to go back to 1.4.0…working on that right now.

  16. “Buy apps from B&N and they will only work on Nook devices, effectively locking you in for life.” AND ebooks as well. B&N ebooks can only be used on a B&N device. That is why I stopped buying books from B&N for my Nook original. Instead I get epub books from other sources like Google eBookstore or Kobo.

  17. Love your web site! Thanks for all your reviews, and helps.
    As soon as I read your update about the new firmware from B&N (Bums & Ninny’s). I closed out my account with them, and posted my negative feelings on their Facebook web site. I sure hope many more people do the same. I will not be buying anymore books from their Nook web site or from a B&N store either.
    They forget we do have many choices in spite of the investment.
    Again thanks for all your efforts, and info!

    Alan L.


    The above is a link detailing instruction to revert your nook tablet back to 1.4.0. Hopefully it will bring back tablet functionality.

  19. That is throughly disappointing. I must admit that I wasn’t in the market for one (I have an iPad2), but still sad to see. Also, don’t give them suggestions about locking their devices down to B&N DRM’d epubs please. They might take that seriously. I know I am getting a nook simple touch for Christmas (and pretty excited about it), last thing I need is a big paper weight. Looking at ebook prices, B&N prices are close enough for most books for me to buy the ebook off their website once I get the nook simple touch.

    Also for their DRM, search Calibre (ebook library/management tool) and also search on Calibre DRM removal plug-ins. I haven’t personally tried that route for B&N epub DRM removal so that I can read the books I BOUGHT in ibooks AND on the nook simple touch (or at least not worry about having to ditch B&N in the future and losing all those books). I have tried it with kindle books and it works perfectly (buy book, strip DRM, convert to epub, load in to iBooks (kindle app just isn’t as nice as iBooks)).

    Now if there was just a way to synch reading location between iBooks and a nook simple touch. Oh well, I guess I’ll just use nook reader app for those books I do buy from B&N (annoying that the iOS app ONLY supports B&N purchased books, the Android app supports side loading, grrrr).

    • At least Amazon still let’s users sideload apps. Updates always mess with root so I don’t see how that comes as a surprise to anyone. That’s why I always wait at least a month to root devices so it gives time for all the annoying bugs to get ironed out…

  20. “B&N ebooks can only be used on a B&N device.”. No, there are a few Reader apps available ( Android, iOS, Mac OS X and probably Windows). Also the DRM is Adobe Adept, but with a different key, your name and the credit-card-number, the file is not attached with DRM to a DRM-registered device. For removal of DRM (may not be legal, depending where you live) there are plugins mentioned here for calibre and python-scripts. I have bought a few books from B&N and the scripts work – sometimes with a shop you try the DRM-removal with a “free” book, sometimes a “free” book is really free as in no DRM. One book had problems, but interestingly it also shows the same problems in the Mac OS X B&N-Reader (parts are still encrypted). I could contact B&N-support, but did not bother.

  21. I just bought my wife a Nook Tablet on Dec 21. I have an iPad that was provided to me from my employer. I travel a great deal and love the iPad. The wife was hinting about a notebook style, smallish, e-reader for email, reading and facebook, etc, so the NT seemed a good fit. I assumed that I would be able to use other apps without too much trouble. But now I’ll most likely take the NT back and get an A100, even though the A100 battery and screen issues are a concern.

    I might stay with the NT if I could assue myself that I wouldn’t have to do workarounds as a rule going forward. My wife won’t put up with that- she’ll just put it away in a drawer, never to be sen again, and continue to lug around the laptop. I would think I’m in the majority- users willing to do a little work to get the device set up- but not a whole lot of nonsense to put up with. What is BN thinking?

  22. Does this mean the ‘rooting’ from an SD Card and running the reader with Honeycomb ‘outside’ the Nooks internal OS (the way you described it in an earlier post) will not work anymore either…? Thanks for the heads-up…

  23. Well, I side loaded all the Apps I could possibly want along with Go Launcher Ex and Launcher Pro prior to the OTA update to 1.4.1. I am unable to side load any more apps but honestly what I have now is sufficient. I rarely play games but the ones I loaded are for my kids to play whenever I allow them touch it. Everything still functions Home Launcher and Button Savior so I’m happy.

    I appreciate the easy directions you provided to get me to this point. I was in the market for an e-reader and now have a little extra. I feel if you really want a full functioning tablet to load apps then spend the money to get one. I’m extremely pleased with my NT and now have the luxury of hauling it around in my purse and can read all the books I have purchased whenever I want. My phone allows me to access FB, Twitter, and email at my leisure so I’m all set.

    Thanks again.

  24. If it was only a case of charging more money for apps and books, The Nook Tablet would at least be USEFUL for those willing to dish out cash.

    However, the BIG problem, in my opinion, is the fact that they simply do not have a big enough collection of apps and books to be competitive with Apple or Android. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked for a particular app or book and couldn’t find it in the B&N store. Not only that, but in many cases they do not even have an app in the category I want. For instance, you can’t install MapQuest from Google and B&N doesn’t have it. I was willing to try any map application that they offered, but a search of “Map Apps” in their store turned up with squat. Just some high priced encyclopedias that maybe have maps in them. As far as I can tell, about 80-90% of the apps and books are for children. Does anyone on the TV ads ever say that the Tablet is primarily for children? Well they should. Everything not suitable for children (and then some) is effectively unavailable.