Lark

Keeping the workplace connected and engaged may not always be the easiest task, but a surefire way to help is by providing employees and peers with an intuitive platform that fosters camaraderie, organization, and increased workflow. Lark is one such tool.

Available for both desktop and mobile devices, Lark takes a number of familiar applications, such as document sharing, calendars, and messaging, and meshes all of these must-have tools into a single cross-platform application. Oh, and it’s completely free.

Is Lark worth the onboarding process? We tested the tool to find out.

Features

Lark packs in loads of features even with its free tier (Image credit: Lark)

Features

Serving as an intuitive communication and collaboration hub for sectors including tech startups, education, retail, and media organizations, Lark packages a number of common workplace tools into a single, easy-to-use interface. Available for Windows and Mac desktops, as well as iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices, whatever you’re able to do on your work computer with Lark you’ll also be able to do from your personal or company phone. 

Whether you or your company are new to workplace suites like Lark or you’re transitioning from a different platform, Lark does its best to look and operate like a number of workflow programs and basic web browser extensions. 

On the surface, there’s Lark Messenger, where users can create customizable chat threads with project collaborators, management, and other team members. For anyone familiar with Slack or Microsoft Teams, Lark’s Messenger tab will look and feel pretty similar. Lark Messenger allows users to keep tabs on the history of interactions, and even lets users adjust message priority settings and track message delivery status. 

There’s even a chat bot function that can be customized to drop messages into certain threads at predetermined dates and times, which is great for things like meeting and deadline reminders. 

Calendar

Easily sync your existing calendars with Lark (Image credit: Lark)

If you’re onboarding an established team onto Lark, the Calendar function can be easily synced with Google Calendars, which makes inputting any existing events a breeze.

Other great Lark features include:

  • Lark Docs for cloud-based file-sharing of Docs and Sheets
  • Lark Contacts for adding new Lark and email contacts and creating larger workplace groups
  • Lark Meetings for creating, joining, and scheduling conferences
  • Live screen-sharing capabilities that allow you to share a number of file-types before, during, and after Lark meetings

Support

Lark provides a number of useful guides and tutorials in its help center (Image credit: Lark)

And best of all, if you or a peer get stuck on how to use something in Lark, the company offers 24/7 support from live reps, email support, FAQs, and a number of excellent training materials in the form of blogs, instructional videos, webinars, and documents.

Privacy

Lark’s desktop and mobile applications take user data very seriously, which is a must for any web-based workflow tool. While Lark does collect user data (including messages, files, audio, etc.), it’s to provide users with the absolute best experience when using the platform. Lark also uses data to handle support queries and to authenticate users. 

When it comes to uploading content to the platform, all transmissions are shielded with military-grade AES-256 encryption, with a rotating encryption key handled by Key Management Service – an Amazon back-up solution. 

Pricing

Enterprise businesses will need to contact Lark directly for a quote (Image credit: Lark)

Pricing

All of Lark’s major tools are available for completely free for both desktop and mobile users. While there’s an Enterprise subscription tier for larger organizations (must contact Lark for pricing), most users will be satisfied with everything the free version comes with. This includes:

  • Unlimited video call minutes for up to 350 participants
  • Unlimited searchable messages
  • 200GB of cloud storage and 500 GB of email storage
  • Unlimited app downloads, multiple team administrators, and customizable workflows 

The Enterprise tier does offer some extra perks. For a premium, Enterprise users get unlimited cloud storage, a dedicated customer access manager, and 24x5 priority support.

User experience

We tested the Lark desktop application on a MacBook Pro (2020). We appreciated that before downloading the wizard, Lark asked if we owned a Mac device with an Intel or M1 chip (our test computer uses Apple’s proprietary M1). The initial download was quick, and after dragging the app into our Applications folder and walking through the setup wizard, we were ready to test the software.

Right away, we were blown away by how clean-looking the user interface is. Launching the app, the default screen is Lark Messenger. Any and all chat threads are displayed along the left side of the tab, with the main part of the tab taken up by whatever chat you’re currently typing in. Chat history, file management, and settings are available along the right side of the screen. 

Messaging

Lark has a clean user interface and all of its various tools can be accessed from a ribbon on the left side (Image credit: Lark)

A left-aligned ribbon of additional tabs includes all other major Lark tools, with options including Meetings, Calendar, Docs, Contacts, and a tab for Lark Workplace – an extensions portal for adding popular applications like Zoom, Asana, and Trello to your Lark account.

With all of Lark’s many features, it’s also amazing to see how smoothly the desktop app operates, with little to no lag when using any part of the platform.

Mobile

This is the user interface of Lark's mobile app (Image credit: Lark)

We also tested Lark’s mobile interface on an iPhone 12. Frankly, we like the look and feel of the mobile version even more than the already-great desktop platform. The left-aligned tools tab is pushed to the bottom, with the top portions of each screen relegated to whatever tab you’re using (Messenger, Calendar, etc.).

Page to page, the iOS app performed without a hitch. We also love the inclusion of a Search function (magnifying glass) at the top of the app, letting you search for anything from documents to contacts and message threads.

The competition

Zoho Meeting is a Lark competitor that focuses on online meetings, video conferencing, and webinars. The free version allows for up to two meeting participants and up to 10 webinar attendees, with unlimited webinars and meetings, screen sharing, and a host of other features. 

The Meeting plan starts at $3/month and adds benefits like cloud storage for video recordings, an administrative portal, and audio options (VoIP, phone, and toll-free). Webinar pricing starts at $16 and includes live streaming, email customization, and Q&A polls. 

Device Magic is another platform that goes toe-to-toe with Lark. Emphasizing form and data collection over full-on communication, Device Magic allows users to create, import, and share checklists, audits, inspections, and more. While there’s no Free tier, the software only costs $25/year per device, with customizable Enterprise pricing available for larger organizations. 

Final verdict

Lark is an excellent workplace collaboration suite. The software runs smoothly for both desktop and mobile devices, and there are plenty of tools, apps, and extensions to create whatever kind of workflow environment is best for you and your team.

Best of all, Lark gives you all the essentials (save for unlimited cloud storage and some priority support advantages) for completely free. If we were launching a new company or wanted to migrate an entire team from one workflow communicator to a better one, Lark would be our go-to solution.

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