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Updated Nook Color software adds 125 free apps, other features

Barnes & Noble on Monday added an applications store and e-mail program to its Nook Color e-reader, bringing the $249 device closer to working like a tablet computer such as the iPad.

The Nook Color's color touch screen gives it capabilities beyond those of Amazon.com's competing Kindle. The Kindle has a gray-scale screen that isn't touch sensitive.

The Nook Color runs Google Inc.'s Android software, which is used on phones and tablets, but the device doesn't run standard Android applications. Instead, Barnes & Noble is encouraging developers to submit specially written applications to its Nook Apps store.

Among the more than 125 applications available Monday are the game "Angry Birds" and cooking recipe vault "Epicurious."

Barnes & Noble is also adding the ability to play Flash content on the Nook Color's Web browser.

Jonathan Shar, head of Barnes & Noble's "digital newsstand," said the Nook isn't intended to compete directly with full-fledged tablets such as the iPad, for which more than 65,000 apps have been developed.

"The target for this is still people who love reading," Shar said.

The bookstore chain launched the Nook Color in November as a successor to its first Nook, which had a gray-scale screen and a smaller color one. Right from the start, the Nook Color had a few nonbook applications such as "Sudoku" but could not add more.

The new features are available as a free software update for current Nook owners.

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