It's been almost a year since home-sharing service Airbnb announced a comprehensive and far-reaching redesign across the entire company — that included a new website, new mobile apps, and a new logo. Both the site and apps put a major focus on the often-beautiful photography Airbnb uses to advertise the homes of users that are available, something that seemed like a logical translation to tablets, but Airbnb's app remained phone-only. That change today with the release of Airbnb for the iPad and Android tablets.
If you've used Airbnb at all since its redesign last July, you'll feel right at home here. After logging in, the app presents you with a nicely scrolling grid of potential destinations — right now, the first things I see are New York City, Lake Tahoe, and Los Angeles as "popular destinations." I can keep scrolling down (or left to right when holding your tablet in landscape mode) to see more destinations, and eventually the app starts surfacing popular individual rental properties, as well.
Tapping through to a city shows you popular rental options, but you can also access a map and do your search there if you're looking for a particular neighborhood in a city. It's a feature already found on the phone app, but it's definitely a nicer experience searching through neighborhoods on a bigger screen. Unfortunately, the Airbnb app doesn't surface any of the discovery-focused neighborhood additions the web site started featuring last year. Airbnb's website will show a map with the approximate location of the rental property as well as some points of interest nearby, but the app omits the latter feature.
A beautiful way to check out vacation rentals you can't afford
The app does include some creative groupings for properties as you scroll through it — "homes of famous authors," "lighthouses," and "underground homes" are three categories that caught my eye as being different than the usual city-focused options. This browsing experience is probably when the app is at its best — the app is beautifully designing, and thumbing through fantasy vacation options isn't a bad way to spend a few minutes. But if you need to get somewhere quicker, you can use traditional search to put in specific dates and locations to complete a booking. You also have access to your messages area as well as all past and future bookings you have.
With the exception of missing out on the location-specific recommendations when making a booking, the new Airbnb tablet app is a useful and long-overdue tool for Airbnb users. It's always rather jarring to find an iOS app that doesn't isn't universal, and the fact that Airbnb is also bringing it simultaneously to Android is good to see. You can download the app from iTunes or Google Play now.