Nook owners are getting a surprise from Barnes & Noble in the form of a major software update. Version 1.3 has the standard bug fixes and performance enhancements, and also adds some new features to the Nook. The ability to read e-books for free while in B&N stores is finally enabled with version 1.3. Nook owners can take the reader into any store and read any e-book title for up to an hour each day at no charge. There are plans to add periodicals to the “read for free” titles soon.
A beta web browser is also added in this new version on the Nook to take advantage of the Wi-Fi capability. This browser is likely to be crude, such as that on the Kindle, but it enables the ability to use the Nook in hotspots that require a web browser login. Nook owners have been crying out for this ability since the device launch.
If the update doesn’t show up automatically on your Nook, go to My Library while on a Wi-Fi connection and check for new content. You should see a prompt to get the update.
This update leads to the question when iPad owners can expect a version of the B&N Reader app for the device. CNET was told by B&N that an iPad specific version of the reader should be out “sometime in May”, with an iPhone version out sometime after that. The iPad version is being totally rewritten to take advantage of the device, according to B&N.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):