It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 4 years since Sunlit debuted as an iOS photo-sharing app built on top of App.net, the social network that has since been shut down. App.net didn’t make it, but Sunlit is back and has been reimagined as a photo blogging app for Micro.blog and WordPress sites.
Sunlit makes it a breeze to create short photo blog posts that it calls Stories. The app has two tabs: ‘Stories’ and ‘Discover.’ The Stories tab lists any past Stories you’ve created. New Stories are created form the button in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Photos can be added from your Photo Library, Flickr, Dropbox, and Instagram. After selecting the photos you want to use, tapping the Add button takes you to the Story editing screen where the images are grouped by date.
Each Story can have a title, date, location, and description. Rearranging the photos in a Story is a simple matter of dragging them into the order you want, though Sunlit does not support iOS 11’s ability to drag multiple items at once. On compatible iPhones, the photos settle into place with a satisfying tap from the Taptic Engine. Locations can be chosen from previous Swarm check-ins or by searching for nearby locales on a map. You can edit photos and apply filters by tapping on one from the Story view too.
Stories can remain on your iOS device if you prefer, but the real value of Sunlit is publishing them to a Micro.blog or WordPress site. After connecting the app to your Micro.blog or WordPress account, publishing is a one-tap process. After everything is finished uploading, Sunlit provides a URL that you can share with others. To make changes, just edit your Story in Sunlit and tap ‘Publish Changes.’ There’s also an option to ‘unpublish’ posts. The workflow couldn’t be simpler.
The second tab in Sunlit, called ‘Discover,’ is dedicated to exploring the photos posted by others on Micro.blog. The tab displays a grid of photos by Micro.blog users. Tap on one, and it opens against a black background with the photographer’s name, a link to the post, and a button for opening the post in the Micro.blog app.
The primary thing I’d like to see improved in the next version of Sunlit is the iPad experience. The app doesn’t support dragging and dropping multiple photos within Sunlit or dragging photos in from other apps. Also, on the iPad Pro, tapping on a photo in a Story opens a zoomed in version that extends beyond the boundaries of the screen and is shifted to one side. That’s a layout issue that is slated to be fixed in an upcoming update, but for the time being, it makes viewing photos more difficult on an iPad Pro than an iPhone. I’d also like to see Sunlit sync Stories across iOS devices, which it does not do currently.
Those criticisms aside, Sunlit is one of the lowest friction ways I’ve tried to create a photo blog, which I appreciate. I also like that Sunlit wasn’t built into the Micro.blog iOS app as a feature. The separation of the two helps streamline the experience in both apps. Judging from the Discover tab in Sunlit, photography is one of the most popular uses for Micro.blog, so it’s also wonderful to see a dedicated app that will continue to feed that growing part of the community.