N2A Cards Brings Jelly Bean And All Android Apps To B&N’s Nook

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Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color and Tablet are capable and affordable media tablets, but they run an old and locked-down version of Android. If you are fairly technical, you can obviously use CyanogenMod to bypass B&N’s firmware and install a new version of Android on your device.

If you’re not that technical, though, the easiest way to get Jelly Bean on your Nook tablet is to buy one of N2A Cards’ pre-loaded cards for $29.99 (available online and at Fry’s) or $19.99 to download the software and install it on your own microSD card.

Once you have the card – or have the software installed on your own card – you just plug it into your Nook and the device will automatically boot into a stock Jelly Bean install without ever touching the B&N firmware. Want to go back to the regular Nook experience? Just take out the card and reboot. The advantage of running the N2A Cards install, of course, is that you can run any app, including Amazon’s Kindle app and other e-book apps. These apps are also often cheaper in Google’s official Play Store than on B&N’s own store. N2A Cards co-founder Dave Vinzant told me earlier this week that the project uses CyanogenMod to make its own project work.

Because the Nook boots from the microSD slot before looking for firmware in its built-in memory, this is the easiest way to multi-boot on the Nook. This same trick will also very likely work with the new Nook HD tablets. These will use Ice Cream Sandwich by default, so N2A Cards will also be the easiest way to bring Jelly Bean to them as well.

N2A Cards gives 20 percent of each sale generated from CyanogenMod’s site back to the project and currently makes a $monthly 500 donation to it, too. This donation is about to be increased to $1,000 per month and will increase again as sales increase with the new cards.