updated 08:55 pm EDT, Thu July 3, 2008
Duarte Reworking Palm UI
One of the most prominent phone interface designers is now working for Palm for its next operating system, Engadget confirms in a hunt for new information. Matias Duarte, who designed much of the interface behind the Danger Sidekick and later moved on to Helio's custom interface, is now known through checks with sources and Palm itself to be a Senior Director in Palm's Human Interface and User Experience design group. The new executive quietly left his former post at Helio for the new position nearly two years ago in September 2007.
Little information is available about Duarte's current projects, though the designer has publicly acknowledged work on "something new" through an online posting and is in a role that would likely charge him with at least some of the interface design work behind the new Linux-based PalmOS. The sequel, nicknamed Nova, willl represent the first major refresh of PalmOS since version 5.0 was shown in 2002 and is known to have a much more Internet-centric design that also has an interface targeted at an entirely different class of user than either today's simpler PalmOS (used on the Centro) or the complex Windows Mobile (used for most Treos).
Nova is scheduled to launch in early 2009 but has been delayed multiple times, showing on Palm's roadmap as early as 2004.
The confirmed hiring reveals a more concerted effort by Palm to hire high-profile mobile device creators and restore some of its lost influence in the smartphone market. In 2007, the company hired former iPod co-creator Jon Rubinstein as an executive chairman and promptly saw major reorganization at the company that included both pushing out underperforming executives as well as offering incentives to potential new talents to revitalize Palm's design. It's unknown as to whether Rubinstein's influence contributed to Duarte's hiring at Palm.