Hipmunk comes to Android with a surprisingly slick app

Hipmunk's mascot with an Android spin

Hipmunk has finally brought its travel search application to the Android (s GOOG) operating system, with a brand new mobile app that will hit the Android marketplace Thursday.

Hipmunk for Android, which for now only facilitates flight searches, is impressive because it retains all the slickness of the company’s existing web and mobile offerings. That’s no small feat for an app made for Android, an operating system that generally takes a backseat to Apple’s iOS (s AAPL) when it comes to user interface design.

I played around with the new app at Hipmunk’s San Francisco headquarters this week, and it’s a pleasure to use. For lack of a better comparison,  the experience is just as smooth as using an iPhone or iPad. That’s not an accident, said Hipmunk’s Android developer Ryan Oldenburg, who worked full-time on the app since joining the company in mid-June.

“The biggest thing about our Android app is it doesn’t not do anything the iOS app does,” Oldenburg told me in an interview. “We really went the extra mile on everything.” In fact, a couple of features — such as the ability to easily clear your flight search history — are currently only found on the Android app, and are likely to be added to the next version of Hipmunk for iOS.

Hipmunk’s Android debut could mark a significant inflection point for the year-old company, which has attracted a loyal following among the early adopter set. iPhones and iPad owners are certainly the choice of many influential folks in tech and media, but Android devices currently account for about half of all smartphones sold in the US. Now that Hipmunk can better serve that huge chunk of the mobile world, the travel app beloved by the cool kids could finally start to get the mainstream following it deserves.

Here are some screenshots of Hipmunk for Android (click to enlarge):