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JoeSoft Jax

August 29th, 2007
Jax up your iTunes with this new plug-in!

JoeSoft brings to the market easy to use software for the general public. This infant company is the brainchild of the folks at ProSoft Engineering. Jax, released in June, is an iTunes plug-in that adds some fun features. New plug-in sets, called Jaks, are under development.

Plug your iTunes

Jax is only $49.95, so it is not too tough on the pocketbook. It requires Mac OSX 10. 4, Tiger and a broadband connection, which is a limiting factor but not fatal for most. After you download Jax, the icon installs right on the iTunes toolbar and is a one-click launch. It lives on your iPhone, iPod, and iTunes desktop, and allows you to add lyrics, album art, You Tube and Google video, a music map, and an extended set of visualizers. Specifically for the iPod, Jax lets you add PDA-like information, such as news, weather, stocks, showtimes, directions, gas prices, and email.

The PDA features are standard fare, but PDA-owner complaints about static information are applicable here too. For example, why would anyone load static gas prices from one's own zip code onto a PDA when what we need are gas prices based on our current location, which requires wireless. If you do not mind access to static email, weather, stocks, and more, Jax performs well for iPod users.

The iTunes features have a much higher cool and fun factor, and the Music map and Lyrics have real promise. It is a huge benefit to access lyrics from songs you like, particularly new iTunes downloads. Jax adds a lot of value with this feature. The feature is not without problems though, as a lot of content is missing and there are a lot of transcription errors in this release. For example, quotation marks usually turn up as annoying question marks.

Music Relationships

The Music Map similarly is an excellent premise Ė visually mapping relationships between artists in a "six degrees of separation" fashion. The links are not yet clickable and the relationships are not clear. While it is great to know that Fall Out Boy has a connection to Say Anything, it would be great to know more specifics about that connection.

Album Art

Album Art doesn't make it easy to pick out the album cover you want, which potentially leaves fans of great album art with cheesy "Now That's What I Call Music" covers instead of the option to select the original album art. For those who don't know, the Now series are best selling iTunes music compilations for devoted iPod users, similar to those found on late-night TV ads.

A Great Idea - Needs Work

As a product idea, Jax makes a lot of sense but, this version may leave some users disappointed. It crashed my iTunes 7.3.2 three times before loading. The help manual leaves much to be desired and does not cover the preferences well. The iPhone documentation is non-existent, so you are left guessing which features work in the iPhone and which won't. I found that most of the features do not work in the iPhone in this release, and don't try to load video via Jax into the iPhone; it crashes every time. There are definitely issues for users who have moved from iPod to the iPhone platform.

The premise and promise of Jax is strong, and the program is easy to use, friendly, and fun. It does need a little work, so take it now with the understanding that you will need to upgrade a few times along the way before it really performs to its potential. The bright side is that the folks who brought you JoeSoft are well known for releasing bug updates as they are found, so I expect the product to be more robust very soon. For moderate users and iPhone owners, best to give Jax a chance to come back with an updated release before taking the plunge.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor
Lyrics feature is fun and add value to iPod. Music Map has great potential. Easy to install, and lives right on the toolbar for easy access. Extends the usefulness of the iPod with static PDA-style content. Cons
Promises iPhone integration that isnít delivered. Content is light and prone to errors and limitations. Crash issues on some features.