Japanese people seem to be big fans of vending machines, since they use these to buy anything from electronics and toys to clothing and fresh eggs. A NFC enabled Google Play vending machine should not surprise anyone.
I guess that vending machines that offer drinks and snacks are a thing of the past in that country. Google’s initiative to place Android app vending machines in Tokyo is the next logical thing, and it might actually be more convenient to get software from your phone from such a place rather than visiting the Google Play store.
All that Android users have to do is place their smartphone on the tray below the screen and select the title they’re interested in. Of course, the smartphone needs to be compatible with the vending machine, which means that it needs to run at least Android 4.0 and have NFC. Once the machine feels the presence of the smartphone, it starts displaying an animation that symbolizes that the transfer is taking place.
For the moment, the Google Play vending machine offers an assortment of 18 apps, including free-to-play and paid games. I don’t really see the point in featuring free-to-play games, when providing a Wi-Fi hotspot would be enough for downloading them on the smartphone.
In case you’re an iOS user (or for some odd reason you’re using a Windows Phone or a Blackberry), there’s still hope for you. Google Japan wants to convince people that its mobile operating system is at least worth a try. The Google Play vending machine can also dispense a Nexus 4 phone that can be tried out. In case it wasn’t obvious already, the phone must be given back, so I assume that it is actually connected to the vending machine through a secure cable.
The three NFC vending machines selling Google apps were placed in front of the Parco department store in Shibuya and switched on yesterday. To make sure that everything goes as planned, Google employees will
guard man the machines. Apparently the machines will be there for ten days, after which they will probably be moved to another place.
While interesting, I really don’t see why people would need such vending machines. Yes, they probably are easier to use, as people don’t have to tap the display after placing their Android smartphone on the tray, but getting apps directly from the Google Play store on the smartphone is not such a difficult thing.