Barnes & Noble has begun rolling out an updated version of its Nook firmware to those who own its e-ink e-readers. Considered a major update, the company says that version 1.5 of the firmware "will dramatically increase" the page-turn speeds of the Nook 3G and Nook Wi-Fi and deliver additional feature and performance enhancements.
While the user interface has largely stayed the same, search functionality on the device has improved, password protection has been added, and you can now organize your library into categories or "shelves," as they're called on the Nook. Also, the update finally allows you to read continuously (sync from your last page read) across your Nook and any device enabled with the Nook app. Like with the Kindle, you can now pick up and read where you left off as you switch from one device to another.
We got an early look at the update and were able to compare page-turn speeds of a Nook running the older 1.4 firmware to a Nook with the new firmware installed and the page turns are significantly faster (company reps said "50 percent faster"). The third-generation Kindle still has a slight edge in page-turn speed, but Barnes & Noble has managed to close the gap. Before, when using the Kindle, it was glaringly noticeable how much faster the page turns were (basically double the speed). Now, not so much. Why didn't Barnes & Noble have this update sooner? That we can't tell you, but Nook owners will be happy it's now available.
The company says it's rolling out the update in waves (you have to turn your wireless to have the device automatically updated with the new firmware), so some Nook owners will get the update before others. Alternatively, you can manually download the update here and load it onto your Nook yourself.
In announcing the launch of Nook firmware 1.5, Barnes & Noble also said it was updating its Nook for Android app to version 2.4. As always, we encourage comments, particularly in regard to the 1.5 update for the Nook.