The Nook Simple Touch is an excellent e-reader, and I like that Barnes and Noble keeps it that way. The e-ink screen and simple form factor make it perfect for reading books. That said, just for curiosity’s sake, I dove in and rooted the thing.
TouchNooter is an amazing script that automates the rooting process.
Getting it to work
Unfortunately, I had trouble reading directions, so it took me a long time to root. I kept dding the .zip file instead of unzipping it first and then dding the resulting unzipped .img file instead.
After I did that, I also realized that the wireless was off on my Nook, which meant I couldn’t follow the directions and sign in right away, which meant there was some weird bug with signing into the Android Market (I kept getting an error message about the network connection, even after I turned on wireless). I did quite a bit of Google searching. Some people recommended pushing a new Vending.apk file to the Nook via adb, but I couldn’t get adb to recognize the device, even after enabling USB debugging. Turned out the solution I stumbled upon that worked was just adding a second Google account to Gmail. Once I did that, I could magically sign into the Market app with my regular Google account.
There were some apps that quite obviously couldn’t run well on an e-ink screen with a slow processor and little RAM. Others surprised me. I had Google Translate, Flixster Movies, Google Books (once I tried to actually read a book), and Facebook crash or hang on me. Others that I thought would be problematic ended up being fine (Facebook can’t load, but Twitter and Google Plus work all right).
Apps that are definitely great for a rooted Nook are ES File Explorer, Gmail, Opera Mobile, Terminal Emulator, WordFeud, and Words with Friends. The latter two are especially good, since the Nook offers a bigger screen than most phones, and it also doesn’t go to screensaver for five minutes (by default), so you have plenty of time to consider your moves before playing them.
Swiping left to right isn’t terrible smooth on an e-ink display, so I removed all but one screens on my ADW Launcher. I plopped a power widget on the home screen to toggle wireless on and off easily.
I also set hardware buttons (the top-left for the Back button, the top-right for the Menu button, the Nook key for regular ADW home instead of the Barnes and Noble home—otherwise you get stuck in the Barnes and Noble interface and can’t get back to ADW without rebooting).
Gallery wouldn’t recognize photos off my MicroSD card, so I used ES File Explorer to find my screensaver photo (of my cat) and then used the ES File Explorer image viewer to set that photo as my wallpaper in ADW.
If you’ve never rooted an Android device before, most of what I’ve just said will just sound like gobbledygook, but I wish someone else had written all that. Would have saved me a lot of trouble.