Barnes and Noble has begun shipping the Android 2.2 (Froyo) Update for its popular NOOK Color, which brings in the new NOOK App Store as well.
This much awaited update brings in a number of enhancements to the core NOOK Color features. Speed of the interface has been improved significantly. The web browser is faster and supports Flash. There's now an email app, although it's neither Gmail nor the standard Android email app.
Probably the biggest part of the announcement is the NOOK App Store. Barnes and Noble is taking an Apple-esque approach by requiring all developers utilize a specific NOOK Color SDK to unify the experience, and is requiring all developers submit their apps for certification to appear on the NOOK's app store.
The NOOK's launch apps look strong, with offerings from Epicurious, Flight Control, Goodreads, and the ubiquitous Angry Birds, to name a few. Adobe's AIR platform is pre-installed so AIR developers can also join in on the fun, although AIR apps will still have to go through the same approval process and use a B&N SDK.
Additional enhancements to the experience include improved pinch-to-zoom in the Nook's browser, and a Nook App called "NOOK Friends" which allows you to network with a group of people and share reading experiences and lend books between each other's devices. Books now have a "NOOK Kids" feature where kids books can embed interactive media elements directly into the reading experience.
Overall, the latest enhancements bring the NOOK Color up to a great entry-level tablet. And if that doesn't satisfy you. there's always some aftermarket options that should sate your appetite. Check out the B&N NOOK site for more info.