Lark, a remote working and video conferencing application, has been momentarily made free to use in India for all members of the education sector. The service, which is owned by TikTok's parent company ByteDance, is a premium offering that operates on a paid model. The suit of services offered under Lark include a messenger service, a video conferencing tool, a collaborative calendar app, a documents suite and even a workplace management platform.
So far, the remote video conferencing and collaboration app space is being dominated by Zoom, which has skyrocketed in dominance. Demand for other collaborative work tools, such as Microsoft's Office 365 suite, and even the free to use Google Docs, have also increased significantly. For messaging and internet calling services, the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have also seen drastic increase in downloads and usage. None, however, have seen such drastic increase of usage as Zoom.
While Zoom's free version lets users join up to 50 users on a video conference call, Lark offers its service for a total of up to 100 users at a time, even in the free version. It also allows document sharing, co-editing and screen sharing while on call, while the Lark cloud storage offers 200GB of complementary space to store documents. The encryption levels of Lark is not yet clear, but given how questions have been raised about Zoom's privacy and security credentials, the Lark suite of services does seem like a decent alternate option to try out.
Lark has opened up its service for free for only the education sector in India. In an email correspondence, Lark has stated that it will only be free for the teaching staff and students of schools and colleges, while private coaching centres will also be able to use the service. While Zoom primarily only offers video conferencing, Lark has offered its entire suite of services for free, and the duration for this will likely remain until the coronavirus pandemic blows over.