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Waze Says No Accidents Despite 8M Users

With 8M registered users driving on the road using Waze, LAUNCH editors posed a question to our readers yesterday, and then to the highly engaging traffic app, regarding car accidents while Wazing. We were relieved to find out that so far, not one user has reported an accident to Waze.
"There are no records of anyone getting into accidents," Waze Senior Director of Communication Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski tells LAUNCH. "Safety is a huge concern. We're lucky so far that no one has come to us saying that Waze caused them to have an accident. It would be awful."

We wonder if someone would report the accident to Waze or if it would show up on police reports. From what LAUNCH editors have been able to find, official statistics only get as specific as reporting cell phone involvement. 

We're obsessing over Waze because based on our study of usage in Los Angeles, people use it to chat with other drivers on the road. In our experience, it's not uncommon to see 50 people on I-405 or I-10 chatting with each other. 

Michal admits that the app could be dangerous, but notes that there are numerous other elements that could distract drivers on the road, such as fiddling with the radio or eating. 

"We don't recommend someone driving unsafely," Michal says. "We have passenger mode that disables the keyboard."

The passenger mode kicks in if you're driving over 5 mph, prompting you to let a passenger navigate.

Distracted driving accidents accounted for 20% of injury crashes in 2009, according to a reportby the U.S. Department of Transportation. That year, distracted driving accidents led to 5,574 deaths and roughly 448K injuries.

Waze is currently working on integrating voice control into the app. "We're trying to optimize the hands-free operation in the app without taking away from the experience," Michal says. 

Michal says they would like to integrate Siri into the app, but doesn't know how long they would have to wait for Apple to allow it. 

Uri Levine, Amir Shinar and Ehud Shabtai founded Waze in 2008. To date, the company has raised $50M from investors including Blue Run Ventures, Magma Venture Partners and Vertex Venture Capital. 


Amazon Blocking Spotify and Google Music on Kindle Fire 

Before the recent launch of Amazon's Kindle Fire, many speculated that the 7-inch tablet could be an iPad killer. But the Kindle Fire clearly targets a different class of individuals: those who mostly consume Amazon content / shop on Amazon and don't care about having access to a diverse app library.

While the Amazon app store has some high-profile apps like Netflix, Pandora and Facebook and games like Angry Birds, it lacks a native email client, Spotify, Tweetdeck and Google's suite of apps (Maps, Gmail, etc.).

Obviously, those missing apps might matter more to certain people, but it's important to know that the Kindle Fire does not offer the full suite of apps available in the Android Marketplace.

Google Music, which launched on Wednesday, can stream up to 20K songs and integrates with Google+. The Google Music app is available on all Android devices with OS 2.2+, but since Amazon customized the Gingerbread version of Android, the app is not compatible with the Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire users can still access Google Music in the Silk browser, but Spotify users are pretty much S.O.L. since Spotify is only an app.

To access music on the Fire that you did not purchased from Amazon, you need to download Amazon's online storage tool Cloud Drive, which lets you store up to 5GB -- roughly 1K songs -- for free, and then upload your music to Cloud Drive.

With 17 million songs in the Amazon MP3 Store, any music you purchase will be available on the Kindle Fire, Android devices, iPad, PC or Mac. Amazon also offers free storage on the Cloud Drive for anything purchased on the Kindle Fire.

For a limited time, all Cloud Drive paid storage plans include unlimited space for music. The plans range from $20 per year for 20GB of storage to $1K per year for 1K GB of storage.

Apple, on the other hand, offers cloud-based streaming and matching service iTunes Match for all Apple devices, but for $24.95 per year. Apple also offers iCloud to keep all your content and apps synced across all of your devices.

While the Kindle Fire is intended for media consumption rather than productivity, it would still be nice to have Bluetooth for using a wireless keyboard, a 3G option so you can use it while commuting, and the ability to take screen shots.

Considering that the Kindle Fire costs $199, compared to $499 for the iPad 2, we aren't too surprised it lacks certain features. But a real iPad killer would have to offer a more open ecosystem and still charge just $199.