Architects dream of building sky scrapers. Writers dream of writing novels. ISL Designers & Developers? They dream of building iPad apps.

The platform is uniquely seductive for one simple reason: an app is a hermetically sealed, self-contained universe. A universe where (nearly) all variables are known, and under the creator’s control. And there is nothing we like more than control.

So, when DoubleTree by Hilton brought us their “Home & Away” iPad app, nearly one year ago, with clear instructions to “remake it entirely,” it was quite literally a dream come true.

Our only caveat? We wanted to build it in iOS6 before it officially launched. Using this new software would allow us to take full advantage of a number of novel features, including: grid layouts, enhanced maps and share sheets.

Armed with these insights, iSL set out to design an iPad app that could serve as an efficient, highly functional travel assistant — one that would improve the experience of being “on the road” in a very real way. It was clear that building something aesthetic was not going to be enough: this had to be a workhorse of an app.

In iOS 6, Apple provided the UICollectionView class which allowed us to build all kinds of great interfaces. For this app, we chose a straightforward layout and used a traditional, scrolling collection view. We were putting a lot of information in each collection view cell, so we did not want to make the layout itself too confusing.

The concept is simple though: tell the app which bank, gas station, coffee shop, pharmacy, rental car, etc. that you, as an individual, prefer, and the app will effortlessly map your brand preferences around your hotel. The app also allows you to connect to @DoubleTree on Twitter to voice your feedback.

Fairly quickly, it became clear that the map was the star of the show. We wanted to highlight the hotel location but still provide relevant details for the users surroundings. One of Apple’s most contested decisions in iOS 6 was to switch to using their own maps solution, moving away from Google. While opinions may vary, it allowed us to really bring to life the map and info displayed within the app. In addition to the in-app map, we also included the ability to get directions to any location of interest. With one click, you are into the built-in Maps application with turn-by-turn directions.

And thus, version 2.0 for the DoubleTree by Hilton’s Home & Away iPad app was born (iTunes Download):