Barnes & Noble's Nook tablets have always been surprisingly good Android devices with one critical flaw: very few apps. That's because to date they have relied on the company's own app store, which offered a tiny fraction of what was available on Google Play. That's all changed, as the company has announced that the Nook HD and HD+ will be getting a software update that will include the Google Play store and access to the over 700,000 apps contained therein. It will also come preloaded on future devices. You'll be able to not only access apps through the Google Play store, but also the books, magazines, and movies that Google offers.
Barnes & Noble won't be shutting down its own content and apps store — though we imagine most users will prefer to get apps through Google Play than through B&N. Apps previously purchased through the Nook store will still be available. The two tablets will also be upgraded to use the Chrome browser and, as full participants in the Google Play ecosystem, also get access to Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps. The decision sets the Nook apart from Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets, which are decidedly not part of the Google Play ecosystem and instead rely on Amazon's own app store.