Getting your Android app on the Nook Apps store

Despite the issues William J. Francis encountered with the B&N Nook developer portal, he encourages readers to try this outlet.

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 600x1024. 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)
  • Bluetooth
  • Microphone
  • TTS
  • Camera
  • Messaging (SMS/MMS)
  • HDMI
  • 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.

Read more about this process.