If you live in Japan or have ever been to the country, you’ll know just how vending machine obsessed the Japanese can be. There’s a vending machine for just about anything honestly; you can get eggs, bananas, live crabs, Smart Cars, Cup O’ Noodles and even fried chicken right from the comfort of a street corner for just a couple Yen (or more if you want a car). Seeing the clear hole in this market, Google has now decided to start putting Google Play vending machines on these very same Japanese street corners, an even more conveniently if you live in Shibuya, in front of the Parco department store. Combining what appears to be a mix between a soda machine and some arcade video game of yore, the Google Play Store vending machine packs 18 popular gaming titles within its cold frame, and interfaces with your phone via an NFC dock right in the front.
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You’ll need to be running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher to use the vending machine, which shouldn’t be a problem given that the latest Android Distribution numbers are showing nearly 70% of all Android devices accessing the Play Store are running Android 4.0 or higher. When you choose to download an app the machine makes a cool little animation as if it’s dropping the app down to your phone, and since it’s linked up via NFC it then appears on your phone. The machine itself gives you access to a number of other apps as well, and if you give any other Google apps a shot you’ll receive a little present as a reward.
What’s cool is that if you don’t have an Android phone and would like to test out how the vending machine works, Google will hand you none other than a Nexus 4 to test it out. It appears that you’ll have your choice of a white or black one, which is a rather interesting choice given that both the 8GB and 16GB models are completely sold out from the Play Store. It’s probably most fitting though that Google would show off its own store interface using its own in-house phone, but wouldn’t it be cooler if they used a Nexus 5 to show off their newest stuff here first? Ah well, one can dream. Google will of course have employees standing by to ensure you return that shiny new Nexus 4, just in case you liked it enough to run away with it. Of course this all seems odd given how easy it is to access the Play Store, browse and find free games and apps. Maybe this is just an easier way for Google to get people to try out the latest Nexus devices and get more familiar with the Google Play branding and store layout. Either way it brings a new level of awesome to Japan’s already awesome vending machines, and gives Google that all important advertising opportunity in Japanese citizens’ already busy lives. Thanks to Engadget for spotting this one!