Sunlit maps


iOS already ships with a mapping framework from Apple that all apps can use, so why did we ignore it in Sunlit and use Mapbox instead? Two main reasons:

Custom map colors. I was interested in creating beautiful new maps that would give Sunlit a unique design. Maps in every other iOS app look exactly the same. Sunlit is automatically more distinctive just by choosing something different, and we barely scratched the surface of the customization that is possible on Mapbox.

Direct web API. Mapbox gives you access to your maps not just in a native iOS map view, but also over the web. For the story backgrounds in Sunlit, we grab rendered maps directly with an HTTP call. This is a lot simpler and faster than having to build an interactive map view and snapshot it.

It also helped that I’ve been following the cool stuff Mapbox has been doing ever since Justin Miller joined their team a few years ago. I could tell this was a company that wanted to push the technology of maps forward. Apple needs to spend all their time building a viable alternative to Google Maps — driving directions, business locations, better search. But I don’t care about any of those things in my app. For Sunlit I want to use a framework from people who clearly love maps, and I think that’s Mapbox.