Review of Lark, a free collaboration & communication workplace platform

[This is a sponsored article with Lark.]

Since the onset of the pandemic, the importance of workplace collaboration tools has never been greater.

At Vulcan Post, we used our fair share of digital collaboration platforms, but we migrated because previous platforms moved to a paid subscription model that we didn’t think was worth the price.

We were approached by Lark, who gave us the opportunity to test and review their collaboration platform. To get a full experience of what Lark has to offer, we’ve moved our team to the platform.

What is Alouette?

At first glance, Lark Suite, or Lark for short, is similar to other collaboration platforms we’ve used in the past. But the team behind Lark defines him as’a tool to change the way people work‘. While this is an ambitious claim, the team thinks they can back it up.

On the Lark platform, users have access to Lark versions of Calendar, Docs, Messenger, Meetings, Cloud Storage, Email, and other features. While these features are present on other platforms, Lark has a lot up for it to stand out from the crowd.

Lark’s main screen

Instead of quitting the app and switching to a browser, for example, Lark tries to fit everything into one platform, without needing to switch apps or tabs.

In terms of price, you can use the enterprise version of Lark for free. The only benefit paid business users get is access to unlimited storage and priority support. The free version of Lark still comes with unlimited video conferencing minutes for up to 350 participants, 200 GB shared cloud storage, and 500 GB email storage across the enterprise.

The app is extremely functional and versatile. Excellent design and intuitive user interface for most features. I love that my basic work communication, planning and tasks are all in one with the Lark app. – Sarah, Managing Director of GRVTY Media

Currently, the app doesn’t have a dark mode available, and I’m not the only one in the company asking for this feature. So we passed this request on to the Lark team and they included it in their internal product reviews.

Lark can also be used on different devices. If you don’t want to download an app, you can use it through your desktop. Alternatively, Lark is available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. During our 2 weeks of testing, the platform remained intuitive and fast, even for us who are not on the latest devices.

Lark’s messenger

Integrated chat features

When you launch Lark, the first screen you’ll be on is Lark Messenger. Here you will have access to a myriad of tools at your disposal. You can host a meeting, check a colleague’s calendar, highlight and pin important messages, set announcements, search for messages, and more.

You have access to the calendar, pinned items, search history, and more. from the messenger’s right

Alouette videoconference

Thanks to Lark, you can also organize video conferences for up to 350 participants with unlimited minutes. This can be beneficial for those who wish to host calls with external members or the community they manage without having to pay extra.

Along with this, you also have access to Magic Share, which allows users to collaborate on a single document without having to leave the video conference.

With Magic Share, you can choose the document you want to edit during the call or create a new document.

Extra privacy with secret chats

When creating a chat with your colleagues, you have the option of creating a secret chat. This feature can be useful for sending one-time corporate passwords or sensitive corporate documents. The message timer can be set for a minute, hour, day or week to clear after reading.

Animated GIF - Find and share on GIPHY

Screenshots with annotation

In the chat, you have access to a screenshot tool. It includes annotation features and even tiling if you need to blur some details. The screenshots come with an automatic watermark tool that will show who created it.

The screenshot tool on Lark, you can add arrows and even mosaic through it

Auto Speech to Text

One of the features we found useful was the ability to automatically turn voice notes into text. Once the user saves the audio note, they will be offered to automatically translate your audio to text for chat. Or, you can select this function from the start when recording audio.

It helps when you’re browsing the chat to see its content, and the transcript is searchable as well, which is great for teams who are used to leaving long voice notes for work.

An example of an audio note sent with automatic transcription

Automatic translation

In each chat, you can activate a setting to automatically translate all incoming messages into your system language. This can be beneficial for those who work with international colleagues. There are currently over 100 languages ‚Äč‚Äčavailable, and the Lark team is working on adding more. We usually only use English in our company, but it was fun to see our colleagues trying out some of their broken Mandarin to test this feature.

An example translated via chat

Alouette Docs

Lark Docs is similar to most online word processors. You have access to documents, sheets and a recently added Bitable. Bitable allows easier project management with features like Kanban and Gantt charts. You can also use the predefined templates to speed up your document creation process.

An example of Bitable on Lark

Lark Docs offers one of our favorite collaboration features, which is the ability to edit a Lark document right from the chat, without going through another tab.

While in a video meeting on Lark, you can also generate a meeting agenda directly in the video call and edit it live using Magic Share, either on the mobile app or on the web platform. The document remains in Lark chat even after the call and it’s easy to access it again without changing platforms. The chat search function can also be used to search for documents.

Third-party applications

Like most collaboration platforms, you can also add additional tools to improve your workflow. In Lark, you can connect other apps like Asana, Trello, Google Drive, and more. If you have programming knowledge, you can also build and code your own app according to your needs. We added a GIPHY bot in our chat for GIF reactions, but I’m not sure if we’ll be using it since we saw this tweet.

If you use Trello for work or for personal management, you can link Trello to Lark. This will allow you to easily edit, create or add cards to Trello without leaving Lark. So far, the third-party apps we’ve used have integrated well with Lark and haven’t overwhelmed the platform.

I can add a new card to Trello directly from Lark

Calendar

Lark allows users to sync their Google calendars in Lark. Since we mainly used Google Calendar to plan our work, moving our tasks to Lark was quite easy. We ran into some syncing issues due to calendar permissions, but after changing some settings it worked fine.

Our Google calendar linked to Lark, you can see the G icon for calendars synced from Google

Video meetings set on Lark can also be accessed through the calendar and you can also view meeting notes here.

Verdict

This is a short video on the features available through Lark

Overall, Lark is a powerful collaboration platform that we think will be popular with many. It’s fast and video chats are also stable in our experience, even for coworkers with slower Wi-Fi.

We only have a few small complaints, the main one being that there is no dark mode dedicated to Lark yet. On top of that, we would ask for smaller UI changes, such as the ‘in-process’ status when someone writes a message, and also the ability to see our total unread message count on the Web and desktop application. But its advantages now far outweigh the disadvantages.

There are a lot of features that we haven’t explored on our own yet. You can even get training and certification as a Lark user or administrator through SaaS University.

We can see many companies, both small and large businesses, being able to take advantage of Lark, not only to increase productivity, but also to make collaboration more enjoyable, especially as we continue to work remotely. As for us, it looks like our trial period is almost over, but we’re not going anywhere.

A resounding yes from a chat poll to keep us using Lark
  • For more information on Lark, click here.
  • If you would like to use the Enterprise Lark paid version for unlimited storage, contact the Lark team here.


Our sincere thanks to
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