One of the cool things about the Android operating system is how many places it shows up these days. What started as an embedded offering on the T-Mobile G1 has grown phenomenally. Android has become the best-selling smartphone operating system, as well as the digital mojo that powers numerous tablets, set-top boxes, and some very well known e-readers.
In a previous TechRepublic post, I discussed my first-hand experiences with the Amazon App Store. More recently in several of my posts, I shared some of the obstacles and solutions my son and I encountered as we worked at creating our first Android game. My major motivations were to teach him a bit about coding and to give myself an excuse to play around with Android’s graphics and sound libraries.
However, writing a great app is only a part of the equation for being a successful app entrepreneur. With all of the bugs worked out, my son and I have turned our attention to marketing our creation. We immediately launched our game in Google’s Android Market, and shortly thereafter in the Amazon App Store. Then after seeing a post on my Facebook page about the app being available for Kindle Fire, my friend Susan wrote on my wall: “too bad I can’t get it for my Nook.”
Nook, huh? I don’t own a Nook, but I remembered reading a while back that for at least a couple incarnations now, the popular Barnes & Noble (B&N) e-reader was running Android under the hood. What could be the harm in doing some digging? So I set out to uncover what it would take to get my latest app onto a Nook.
From a technical perspective
It turns out there are two versions of the Nook hardware that can run Android apps: Nook Color and Nook Tablet. Targeting either device is fairly straight-forward. The Nook Color runs Froyo (Android 2.2) and the Nook Tablet runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3). Much like Amazon’s Kindle Fire the Android e-readers in the Nook family have a medium density display resolution (MDPI-160) with a pixel count of 600×1024. If you are used to the Android mantra of trying to support every display, resolution, and device under the sun, you will find that only worrying about a single device profile is quite nice.
Besides the fixed display, the Nook has a few other technical items that are unique to it; mainly, there are features that are not supported. These features include:
- LocationManager (with or without GPS)
- Messaging (SMS/MMS)
- 3 Axis Gyro
The B&N team have made available to Nook developers a Nook specific emulator image, as well as a few add-on libraries for accessing their store and some of the DRM mechanisms in use by B&N. Those libraries are nice, but certainly not essential. I was able to test the application just fine using my own emulator, and I managed to get along without the add-on libraries.