Airbnb's app update helps you live like a local, even on vacation


Airbnb is my - and many's - preferred way to stay when away from home, and today the service's iOS and Android apps got a major kick in the cottage to help travelers find accommodations that are just right for them.

The main thrust of the update is to better surface results that meet guests' personal preferences, such as houses that allow smoking or pets.

Rather than having to wade through dwellings that are in the area you want to but won't allow Fido to board - a fact you learn only after messaging the host - those places are less likely to appear if they don't meet what you've said you're looking for.

Hosts also have improved controls to find the right guests. Their house rules will be displayed more prominently, and guests will have to agree to them explicitly before booking. Guests will have to confirm how many people are staying in a spot, too.

Like you live there

Airbnb is also focusing on helping travelers experience life as a local, as opposed to the "t" word, in a new campaign called Live There.

With the updated mobile apps, users can search for the kind of neighborhood they'd like to stay in using categories like "quiet" or "scenic." Places that meet that criteria will pop up as a result.

The service will also post updated city and neighborhood info for popular places, including in-depth local descriptions and photos culled from hosts.

City descriptions will pool recommendations from hosts into a collaborative guidebook for travelers. When guests open the Airbnb app, they'll also see a link straight to their host's personal guidebook.

These resources should give guests insights into an area that only locals know, like the best restaurant that's not on Yelp or gems off the beaten path. Rather than get sucked up in a swarm of out-of-towners with selfie sticks, Airbnb's Live There initiative hopes to connect travelers with the "real" side of the city they're visiting.

The updated search experience is rolling out now on iOS and Android to a small number of hosts and guests. Others will see the updates as they're heading out gradually.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.