Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

New Update for Nook HD Adds Adverts, Accessibility, and Dutch/French/German Dictionaries

Posted: 21 Dec 2013 10:00 PM PST

B&N nookshd[1]rolled out an update this week for their beleaguered Android tablets this week and included a surprise bonus.

In addition to the new accessibility options and other upgrades mentioned in the changelog, the update also quietly added a feature which gives me great hope that B&N is planning to launch their tablets outside of the US and UK.

The official changelog for the update says that it adds a new annual subscription option for newspapers and magazines. The Android accessibility feature Talkback has been enabled in more places, including Home, Library, email and the web browser.  And last but not least B&N is now going to use “your” tablet to pitch deals for Nook ebooks,magazines, and more. (Luckily you can turn this off under the Settings/General/NOOK Notifications menu.)

All in all there’s not much that’s newsworthy in the changelog, but luckily I had the good fortune this week to have a reader tell me about the unannounced part of this update. (Thanks, flyingtoastr!)

My Nook HD+ now offers the option of installing more dictionaries. I cannot find any options for installing my own dictionaries, but I can see that B&N is now offering dictionaries for Dutch, Italian, German, French, and Spanish.

These new dictionaries are not available in the Nook Android app, and they were added to the Nook HD sometime in the past 8 months. I cannot be more clear because I have conflicting reports that say that the dictionaries first appeared with the update, with the Google Play update in May 2013, and at a couple different dates in between.

But never mind when the dictionaries showed up; simply the fact they are present could be a good sign that B&N hasn’t completely handed their international plans over to Microsoft.


B&N is selling ebooks in the US, UK, Canada, and 29 additional countries. The latter group of countries are only limited to only using the Nook Windows 8 app, but the new dictionary support might be a sign that B&N plans to launch tablets in those countries as well, or if not tablets then perhaps Android or iOS apps. This would be the obvious next move, IMO, but then again I expected B&N to include all of their apps when they opened a new localized Nook Stores.

B&N hasn’t had any luck with their Nook platform over the past year, and they could use a boost from increased ebook sales. Their digital revenues have dropped for the past several quarters even though they have been selling they Nook HD and Nook HD plus tablets at drop dead prices.

The Nook HD+ is a 9″ tablet with a 1920 x 1280 resolution screen. It is running B&N’s own proprietary version of Android on a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, and it ships with  16GB or more of Flash storage. The Nook HD is a 7″ tablet with a 1440 x 900 resolution screen (the highest of any 7″ tablets when it launched). It to is running a proprietary version of Android on a 1.3 GHz dual-core CPU, and it ships with  8GB or more of Flash storage.

You can find the tablets with prices starting at $129 and $149. If you’re interested, the Nook HD+ is a much better value; the Nook HD is pretty but not much better than its competition. I would get a cheaper tablet with similar specs.

In any case, the dictionaries are available now. If you want to install them you will find the option under the Settings/Apps/Reader menu.

P.S. Does anyone know if these dictionaries are available for the Nook Glow or Nook Touch?

The post New Update for Nook HD Adds Adverts, Accessibility, and Dutch/French/German Dictionaries appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Instapaper Dabbles in Flipboard-esque Aggregation With Instapaper Daily

Posted: 21 Dec 2013 01:10 PM PST

When Instapaper instapaper dailywas launched several years ago it had the simple goal of letting users save the articles they found on the web so it can be read later. It has grown to be one of the better services in that niche, but earlier this week they stepped out of their comfort zone.

With a quiet announcement on Twitter, a new section of Instapaper went live on Thursday. It’s called Instapaper Daily, and it serves up a single column feed of snippets and links to the most popular articles saved to Instapaper.

Instapaper Daily doesn’t serve up the content, just a snippet, but it does let you decide to either visit the source website or save the article to your Instapaper account so you can read it later. And in what could be described as a classic minimalist Instapaper style, only a single article from each of 6 categories (culture, business, tech, arts, internet, etc) is suggested for each calendar day. You can also browse an archive of the most popular articles.

The site is explicitly designed for a smartphone or small tablet. I would not try it on an iPad or any screen larger than 7″. But on a small screen it looks okay:

instapaper daily instapaper daily

I’ve known about the new Instapaper feature since Friday afternoon. At first it inspired flashbacks to when Feedly was hijacking links a few weeks ago, but after I thought about Instapaper Daily I realized it was quite different. This service is only visible to someone who is already using Instapaper, and it gives equal weight to the source link. And while this might boost page views inside Instapaper, it’s not redirecting links from anywhere.

In reality this is closer to being a Flipboard-esque type of aggregator than anything.

But it’s not much like Flipboard, is it, with that service’s page after page after page of stories? Well, no, but then again Instapaper has always been a minimalist service. This idea is far more fitting with Instapaper’s style than if they had suggested a pageful of stories.

And speaking suggested reading, Readability is working on a similar feature called Recommendations. I’m told that this is a list of articles shared by other Readability users that you follow. The feature has been in an invite-only beta test for the past few weeks but it should be going public soon.

The post Instapaper Dabbles in Flipboard-esque Aggregation With Instapaper Daily appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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