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Airbnb caters to its hosts with new app, community tools

Airbnb has given its mobile app an overhaul to help hosts manage their bookings on the go, and launched new tools to help them connect with each other through the site.

On Tuesday the company launched Host Home, as part of a larger redesign of its mobile app that's intended to make it easier for hosts -- and travelers -- to use the Airbnb site on their mobile devices. The new Airbnb app is available for iOS and Android-based devices, and was announced at Airbnb's headquarters in San Francisco.

The new app provides a range of tools that previously were either hard to access on mobile or not available at all, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said during the unveiling in front of an audience of hosts.

"The world is becoming more mobile, and we found the most successful hosts are mobile," he said. Airbnb's service provides an online marketplace where users can list, find and book a variety of accommodations, like rooms and apartments, from the Web or their mobile devices.

The new app features a central dashboard to let hosts respond to incoming messages, accept bookings, manage incoming reservations and update their calendar without having to switch between different screens, as was the case before.

More than 300 Airbnb hosts were invited to Tuesday's "Airbnb Open" event, which saw the release of other new tools designed to help them get more out of the site.

Those tools include new hospitality rankings like "cleanliness," "communication" and "accuracy" to help guests get a better sense of where they might be staying. The company also announced the official launch of Host Groups, to let hosts create meet-up groups in their neighborhoods to share advice and learn from each other.

For guests, the redesigned app also features a new search mode that highlights photos, and a cleaner interface.

Airbnb, which launched in 2008, now has more than 350,000 hosts around the world, the company said Tuesday.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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