VOX is less “music player” than “delivery vehicle” for its company, Coppertino, to upsell users to its “VOX Premium” service. Ads beaconing users to sign up litter the app, deeply cheapening the experience. I said not much more than that last year and quickly deemed VOX my least favorite player, but this year I want to take my time to properly take apart VOX’s problems, which run far deeper than its cheap surface.
I could forgive the premium service shilling if there was anything of substance in the app itself, but that’s unfortunately not the case. While one’s instinct may be to point to VOX’s free price tag as the reason for the sparse functionality, I would argue this is not an excuse but rather a sign of a critical flaw in Coppertino’s business strategy. Their business is a premium music service, not necessarily making a quality music player to deliver that service. Given a budget, it makes sense the business would prioritize the stability and enhancement of the service providing their revenue stream rather than building out their “free” music player delivery vehicle.
To speak in concrete terms, VOX sans the service has three views: “Library”, “Collections” (a.k.a. “Playlists”), and “Settings”; that’s it. The “Library” view has no tab bar or navigation to speak of, just a grid view of your albums. The various collection views you’d expect (“Artists” and “Songs”) are instead “view options” in the “Library” view’s settings, making switching between these views needlessly cumbersome and undiscoverable. Discovery features are nowhere to be found; this single, sad “Library” view is all you get.
The player view is not much better off. Aside from a delightful waveform progress indicator, the player view is visually empty and boring, leaving much white space where useful features like lyrics could have gone.
That’s it; there’s genuinely nothing else I can find to show you from the VOX experience, sans the upsell service. I can accept freemium apps that still provide some kind of inherit, novel value independent of the service they’re selling, but refuse to accept thin cardboard cutouts like VOX that only provide the bare minimum value required to qualify as a music player. For this reason, VOX again “wins” the title of worst player in the showcase. Even apps I have severe issues with like Sathorn, Soor, and Dot Music are better value propositions. In Sathorn’s case, it’s the equivalent of butter spread too thin on toast. In Soor’s case, you only get the toast if you accept a different bread and spread than advertised. In Dot Music’s case, it’s just plain toast. VOX didn’t even bother toasting the bread.
Personal Score Card
- iPad support: Just added this year, and it’s the lazy “enlarged iPhone version” you’d come to expect from mediocre iPad ports. However, it’s functional, so credit where credit’s due.
- Beautiful or visually engaging player view: Partial credit awarded for the neat waveform progress indicator.
- Lyrics support
- Light & dark themes: There continues to be no light mode after all these years.
- Discovery features
- Proper sorting
- Album grid view