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Android Handhelds Hardware Hacking Build

Now You Can Use the Nook Touch ... As a Kindle 99

Posted by timothy
from the twain-meet-film-at-11 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Barnes & Nobles' latest e-reader has already been hacked. In a couple of surprise videos this morning, the hacker zoryl showed the Nook Touch running the Kindle app and running ADW Launcher. The second video also hints at the presence of Bluetooth."
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Now You Can Use the Nook Touch ... As a Kindle

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  • So how long before Barnes and Noble or Amazon flip their wig and start filing lawsuits and or releasing patches to fix such a thing. I give it about a week tops.
    • Why would Amazon sue? Kindle app means more Amazon purchases.
      • by Dyinobal (1427207)
        People buying nooks, over their kindle because then they can use B&Ns service and the Kindle service as well.
        • by aliquis (678370)

          Yeah, because Kindle sales surely make Amazon rich. Not.

        • People buying nooks, over their kindle because then they can use B&Ns service and the Kindle service as well.

          You need to look at it another way. The people doing these hacks are doing it for the lolz and a cheap tablet. All tablets I know of (IOS, Android, but I am not sure about the Windows and Blackberry tablets) already have the Kindle and BNB apps available. Little to no loss there.

          Second, the Kindles are a loss leader from what I keep hearing from people I am going to assume did more research than I have into the matter. Amazon loses money from Kindles, but in selling a Kindle they know you are going to b

          • The people doing these hacks are doing it for the lolz and a cheap tablet.

            Not necessarily, in this case; an e-ink tablet would be barely useful at best. The original Nook has a dedicated group of individuals that hack on it, mostly to improve the user experience, and I presume they've migrated to the new Nook.

        • People buying nooks, over their kindle because then they can use B&Ns service and the Kindle service as well.

          Amazon isn't making money by selling Kindles. Where did you get that preposterous hypothesis?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      B&N have not caused any problems for the thousands of people who are VERY publicly hacking Nook Colors with a full Android.
      And we've been doing that since shortly after they were released. There are multiple versions of Android in fact, and even more different roms to choose from.

      Amazon has not made any noise that I have heard about either- I think they hope to achieve extra e-book sales from those who have hacked B&N devices while B&N is hoping for 2 things:
      Increased customer loyalty (and purch

      • by Sinthet (2081954)
        I've actually considered buying a Nook just to use it as a low-cost Android Tablet. If B&N are paying any attention whatsoever to the online buzz, the last thing they'll do is try to stop the customization of these devices.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          I doubt that B&N cares one way or the other about people hacking their hardware. Considering that Nooks aren't locked into their store specifically, I have to assume that they make at least some profit off the sale of Nooks, even if the profit is minimal.

          • As long as they aren't losing money on the Nooks, and as long as some publishing bigwig doesn't get an irrational bug up his ass about "zOMGF hackers=Piracy!"(which would hardly be a shock, given the predilections of the content industries; but would be stupid, given the ease with which downloaded ebooks are currently cracked on PCs without touching device firmware), I suspect that B&N is happy to shift as many units as they can.

            In their ideal world, every unit shifted would be to some hardcore reade
            • Honestly I don't think it's all that arguable. B&N's Nook color, even without hacking it, is essentially a fairly decent Android tablet for $250. I haven't hacked mine yet, and I still have a decent selection of games, web, e-mail, and quite a few utility apps just from the B&N store. At some point I'll probably hack it to run stock Android, but so far I haven't had a good reason to do so. The main reason I wanted a tablet was e-books, which it obviously handles quite well. Beyond that I mostl

              • by peragrin (659227)

                The only three reasons why i would hack my nook color iare,
                The web browser is painful to use (no bookmark imports, no ad block)
                The email client works, but not very well.
                and I would want some push notifications, so I can send links from my desktop to the device for future reading.

            • by hedwards (940851)

              The books are still DRM encumbered, that's the part that the publishers care about. It's not going to be a problem unless a huge portion of the Nook owning public are no longer able to use the DRM files without cracking them.

    • by xs650 (741277)
      Based on how B&N has reacted to Nook Color "hacks" for many months now, they never will. B&N gets it, the extra flexibility makes their product much more desirable to a significant minority of their customers.
      • by NuShrike (561140)

        They got a NookColor sale out of me because of their lenient policy. That's money in the bank without advertising.

        • by Predius (560344)

          They'll be getting more sales out of me for their lenient policies beyond my initial Nook Color.

          Still hoping they use their access to get a Honeycomb port rolling officially, not that will ever actually happen but I can hope dangit.

      • by MrDoh! (71235)

        +1 NC sale because it was hackable
        +1 NookTouch sale tonight because of this.

        It makes sense to be nice to the device hackers, as it generates sales/goodwill from the community.

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      So how long before Barnes and Noble or Amazon flip their wig and start filing lawsuits and or releasing patches to fix such a thing. I give it about a week tops.

      So far they haven't complained about the Nook Color being rooted and used as an Android Tablet. A few of the engineers in fact are quite supportive of it. A Nook Color with custom firmware is only slightly below a Galaxy Tab wifi version with respect to hardware for about $100-$150 less. I suspect B&N isn't making much profit on the readers, and probably not losing much revenue from a small percentage of their sales to users who intend to root them and never actually use them as an e-reader. In the

      • A few of the engineers in fact are quite supportive of it.

        Ah, good to hear. Now, if only they'd tell us how to turn on the bluetooth antenna! :)

        • by NuShrike (561140)

          Even though it's been turned on in CM7, it's not a full-strength/range nor good enough to support audio for some devices. External GPS support is really good though.

          • it's not a full-strength/range nor good enough to support audio

            Right, there's effectively no antenna yet. The chipset in the Nook shares a common antenna between WiFi and Bluetooth, but to enable Bluetooth to connect to the antenna requires some chipset instructions that apparently aren't publicly available.

            As the customer, the Nook developers could presumably request this information, but then again Bluetooth isn't a feature of the Nook.

    • by ajlitt (19055)

      They can file lawsuits if they want, but I can't think of a grounds they could do that on.

      As for patches, Barnes and Noble left the door wide open to custom firmware. Both the Nook Color and Nook Touch use the same OMAP CPU and are hardwired to boot external (USB, microSD) media before touching the internal flash, and there's no code signing or encrypted images needed. They could only kill this off with updated hardware.

  • It's just an android device though, isn't it? Yeah, it's got Barnes and Noble stuff on it, but still, it can't be that hard to hack.
    • It's just an android device though, isn't it? Yeah, it's got Barnes and Noble stuff on it, but still, it can't be that hard to hack.

      It's a ford. Shouldn't be that hard to put a chevy engine and a crystler transmission in should it? After all it's just a car.

      • I know we really go for bad car analogies around here, but that's a completely awful one.
        • by brusk (135896)
          If that analogy were a car it would be a broken-down Yugo.
        • by jittles (1613415)

          Actually, it's not too bad. Why? Because each device has custom drivers, that may or may not have source code available. For instance, if you want to build Cyanogenmod from source for your phone, you have to hook your phone up and let it pull some drivers off of it. And some devices are not supported at all because they can't manage all of the necessary drivers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A Ford with a Chevy motor is probably one of the most popular rat rod recipes out there.. And the Chrysler Torqueflight transmission is one of the automatic transmissions of choice.. There are kits available that make a Chevy powered Ford with a Mopar transmission very easy to build.

        • aye but I was really just saying, while it most likely CAN be done [both the car thing and the andriod thing], it is not "trivial" and requires somebody with the proper skills to make it happen. The old rod days it was pretty simple IF you knew what you where doing. But still needed the skills to fabricate a plate so the tranny would bolt to the engine. Fabricate a clutch and throwout bearing. Fabricate engine mounts to bolt the engine to the frame. Fabricate a drive shaft to run that power from the tranny
        • A Ford with a Chevy motor is an easy modification now because someone did all the hard work of making up a kit of motor mounts and associated parts to make it work. The first person who did the swap is another story, his was surely not as easy. A popular mod for older Jags is to swap in a small block Chevy with a GM alternator and transmission. Yes its a kit.

          • The first person who did the swap is another story, his was surely not as easy.

            The only hard bit about it is hooking it all into the stock dash controls and exhaust manifold routing. Custom motor/transmission mounts are actually pretty easy to do.

            And yes, old Jags are pretty cars, old Jags with bowties are pretty cars that don't spend half their time with your mechanic.

        • Kind of like a ThunderCougarFalconBird [urbandictionary.com]?
      • by DAldredge (2353)
        Your UID is to high to be making car analogies.
        • Your UID is to high to be making car analogies.

          cause I didn't log in for like 2 years and lost me good one :(

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Any device manufacturer can choose how much effort they put into making an Android device difficult to hack (root and install custom roms if desired.)

      Some cell phone companies and carriers make it very difficult indeed.

      Barnes and Noble has gone the other route, at least with the Nook Color: it is very difficult to actually "brick" one. You can even download a microSD image and boot from that without modifying the stock B&N version of Android.

      I have not followed the Nook Touch so it may be a bit differen

      • by hedwards (940851)

        I suspect that what's going on here is that B&N makes a small profit on each Nook it sells. And it would be somewhat anathema to release an ebook reader that's not tied to a specific store and then lock the thing down from such hacks. The only thing I can think of them wanting to protect is the cell connection, and even that isn't a big deal because if you use it to access sites other than their store, they just bill you for the overage.

        It's hard to really say, but this is probably part of their, "we're

  • Now if only Amazon would let me install the Android Kindle app in my country...

    They let me my 3G Kindle, Kindle on my PC, on my Blackberry and on my iPod. But for some reason, not on the Android platform. Bummer.

    • "...because Android is open." -- John Gruber

      • "...because Android is open." -- John Gruber

        In all fairness, it's an Amazon restriction, not an Android one. What I don't get is why they allow the other devices but restrict Android.

  • by xzvf (924443) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @09:44PM (#36415238)
    I think B&N as the underdog has purposely left the reader fairly open. The Nook Color is extremely easy to root and has been for months. They use epub and load many other formats without charging any conversion fees. I speculate that if the publishers would let them get away with it, there wouldn't be any DRM either. While I'm sure B&N would prefer you purchase your ebooks from them, I'm purchased non-DRM versions direct from O'Rielly and Packt and they work fine on the Nook. Considering that Amazon wants to lock you into their proprietary format, severely limits the appeal of their devices for me.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      This, I considered getting a Kindle when I got my Nook. The hardware in both cases is quite good, the screens are manufactured by the same company and most areas are more or less identical. The two things that pushed me over to Nook were epub support and the microSD slot. Well, that and I can change the battery without much hassle.

    • by caseih (160668)

      I'm not sure what you're talking about when you say the Kindle locks you into a proprietary format. It doesn't at all. It's true that just like books you buy from BN, Amazon Kindle books are DRMed. But the device is perfectly happy to display any .mobi file I throw at it. Thanks to Calibre I can translate back and forth between mobi and epub with ease, and stick any of my O'Reilly books on my Kindle. I also love the scripts that come with Calibre to create custom newspapers for me based on feeds from

      • by basotl (808388)
        DRM != Proprietary
        .mobi is based on an open format but with proprietary extensions. It is just easy to convert from an open format to proprietary in this case.
    • First I'd like to say that I think both the Nook and Kindle e-readers are rather solid (though I don't agree as much with the Nook Color).

      While Amazon could be lying they have flat out said that it was publishers that forced them to use DRM. So I don't agree with your disingenuous painting B&N as the good guy in that respect. I think both companies blame publishers for DRM requirements on the books they sell and, at least if you look at Amazon's MP3 market, that it's probably truth.

      The Kindle doesn't lo

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      I think B&N as the underdog has purposely left the reader fairly open.

      I honestly don't think it was intentionally left open for the purposes of rooting/repurposing. I think they kept the reference board design which normally will boot from the SD card, perhaps thinking this would help avoid bricked units down the road and better support firmware updates. That the Android community has embraced the hardware has only helped their sales and popularity. Certainly, some of those units are getting used as generic tablets and they're not buying B&N ebooks, but I don't think t

    • by Weezul (52464)

      Does the nook support display and search of PDF, CHM, and DjVu formats?

      The DjVu format is critical for ebook readers because sooooo many books are ONLY available in DjVu. DjVu to PDF conversion is NOT an acceptable option, but a third party app should be fine.

      Does it run other Android apps?

      • by caseih (160668)

        I don't think nook or kindle support DjVu. The Kindle does do PDF I think, but depending on the PDF the results may not be that great, given the size of the screen. The only useful PDF-viewing device I've seen is the iPad, which its pinch zoom capabilities.

        Most nook and kindle owners use their books primarily for casual reading. In those kind of books, I have never heard of a book that was in the DjVu format. Indeed for this kind of reading, a digital format like epub or mobi is infinitely preferable b

        • Both nooks do PDF as well, and to my understanding, the new Nook Touch has pinch and zoom making PDFs much more readable on the device. The review I saw said the feature still had a lot of room to improve, but that it was a huge step in the right direction.
  • It's too bad that even with the Kindle reader you will not benefit from Amazon's patented e-ink anti-aliased fonts. These excellent fonts are the reason I own a Kindle. After using a Kindle you won't tolerate an e-ink Nook, Kobo, or other e-reader.

    • by Methuseus (468642)

      I have a nook and have read on a kindle. I don't see what you mean, as the kindle doesn't look any better to me, and they both look much better than most paperbacks I have read.

  • Usefulness? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by proverbialcow (177020) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @10:43PM (#36415446) Journal
    The touch screen isn't capacitive; it apparently uses a much less precise IR system to track your finger. So, neat, you got it rooted and can run Android apps - on a six-inch grayscale screen that can only roughly approximate gestures. I think that if you want to pay for an e-reader and use it as a tablet, the Nook Color is the better bet.
    • by MSRedfox (1043112) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @11:23PM (#36415594)
      It's highly useful. You get all the benefit of e-ink and the ability to buy books at any bookstore. This makes it better than an e-ink device that is locked to a single ebook provider. As for swapping over to the Nook Color, that's fine if someone wants an LCD screen, but some of us like the idea of having an open e-ink device.
    • Aside from the purely recreational hacking value, the real upside to getting Android applications running on the Touch would be expanding its capabilities for handling the subset of activities that are largely text-based, or tolerant of greyscale graphics; but lie beyond ebooks specifically:

      Email, light web browsing(Hello Wikipedia...), grabbing a map and directions, that sort of thing.

      Anything that depends on capacitive precision, 30FPS screen refresh, or color is going to be a waste of time, in prac
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        light web browsing(Hello Wikipedia...),

        Apparently the new Nook touch has a hidden web browser - enter a URL into the search bar and it'll load up the page.

        Of course, surfing the web is painful on e-ink...

      • After I posted that, I was thinking that this would be perfect for things that already work well in the shell - Lynx, vi/emacs, etc - but there's no keyboard.
        • by MrDoh! (71235)

          From the vids, looks like it uses regular android keyboard when it hits a textfield. So should be ok.
          Though hearing it's got a BT chip? Might be good to pair up a BT keyboard. Screen refreshes shouldn't be too bad on a console.. (though using VI on these things isn't good at the best of times, this might be a bit /too/ extreme)

  • I'm assuming the benefit of this would be to use the Kindle store, but are there books you can get from Amazon that you can't get from B&N?

    Using the epub (and PDF) format, it seems to be a lot more open, I know the libraries here support the Nook but not the Kindle because of it's format.

    I understand the android market being cool on the NOOKColor, but on the eink screen, I can't think of many apps working well.

    • Well, suppose you already have a Kindle, and a bunch of books in your account, but want to move onto B&N offering?

    • My wife gave me a nook for Christmas, and after using my nook and her mother's kindle, my wife wanted her own reader. Originally, I was going to give her a nook, and we could share the purchased books. However, one of the things my wife wanted to download on her device was the Nancy Drew books that she read growing up. Those are only available for the kindle. Similarly, after reading Winterfair gifts (by Lois McMaster Bujold), I noticed that more of the Miles Vorkosigan books are available on kindle than

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