January 18, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Evaluated version: 1.0
Pros: Simple design and plenty of filtering options to enable speedy search
Cons: App not as easy to navigate for new hosts
Finding a quality hotel room is never easy to do, so imagine how tough it must be for someone trying to find an apartment or home to rent for a short period. An increasing number of people have turned to a service called Airbnb.com for that problem. Airbnb is a directory of home owners and renters who are willing to let others use their home (or a room or efficiency) for a short stay. It provides the comforts of home at rates better than or comparable to a hotel, and the entire process can be carried out from start to finish on an Android device.
The official Airbnb Android app launched recently and the app is already off to a running start. Though the app looks like a port straight from iOS, the design and functions are good. Users can see featured properties in a given city or search for all properties, and then see a list or map detailing available locations in the area. The filter button in the top-right corner can remove listings that don’t meet the following criteria:
- Able to accommodate check-in/out date
- Able to accommodate number of guests
- Offer private rooms, shared rooms, or entire homes for rent
- Minimum or maximum price
- Number of beds or bathrooms on site
Individual listings then offer a great deal of info, including the all-important nightly rate. A description of the property and on-site amenities (cable, WiFi, pets allowed, etc.) provide the details that help decide if its worth staying at that location. A scrollable photo gallery provides further clarity, and user reviews from past guests add insight about the booking experience and cleanliness of the property or neighborhood.
The Airbnb app does an excellent job of presenting a lot of information in a dead-simple way. Even someone who has never used the service should be able to sign-up, search, and have a room booked within 30 minutes if you find a suitable site. And because the app does such a good job of displaying the listings, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. Android 2.1 is required, and ICS users may experience some force close errors.