NOOK Color owners woke up to a nice surprise on Monday morning thanks to a new firmware update that adds new features to their color LCD e-reader.
Software Update version 1.3.0 was released on August 22. According to Barnes & Noble, the new firmware offers several new features along with enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity and performance improvements.
The primary new functionality is based around magazines. B&N is introducing special edition NOOK magazines (the initial titles include Time, Sports Illustrated and People, among others) that add audio and video extras to the standard print editions. The enhanced NOOK magazines feature bonus content such as podcasts, interviews and quizzes. In addition, anyone who subscribes to the print version of these magazines will receive the digital NOOK special editions for free. Barnes & Noble is really pushing the digital magazine market and now offers over 200 titles for the NOOK Color (although only select ones include the enhanced content). The company offfers subscriptions or single issue purchases and 14 day free trials of digital publications.
The other new function will definitely appeal to parents whose kids have access to a NOOK Color. A parental control has been added that makes it easy to disable the web browser. The previous solution (turning off Wi-Fi) meant no online book access and was a little simple to defeat given the tech kowledge of many kids these days.
Barnes & Noble is rolling out the update over Wi-Fi starting the week of August 22nd. If you'd rather not wait for the update to be automatically pushed to your NOOK Color, you can manually download the update (it's a 177mb ZIP file) here on your computer and sideload it for installation. Full instructions are included.