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Matias Duarte, designer behind Sidekick and Helio, now developing Palm's next-gen UI

So we heard from a very reliable source that mobile user interface guru Matias Duarte -- who you may know as the man behind the Sidekick and Helio UI / user experiences -- actually left Helio late last year to join up with Palm. Although no announcement was made, we hear he and his gang of designers jumped ship (well before Helio completely flooded) to take on the monumental task of designing the UI for Palm's next-gen mobile OS (aka "Palm OS 2.0 or II"). His resume online now lists him as "Senior Director, Human Interface and User Experience" doing "Something new..." since September 2007; we got in touch with Palm, who confirmed that he's now under the company's employ.

Of course, expectations should be pretty high -- Palm's only been promising this supposedly game-changing OS since around 2004, and the company's reputation and pedigree is (or at least it used to be) in groundbreaking mobile UI design. But this news also kind of makes us wonder: if they didn't have a killer UI and user experience team already in place and long-since working their asses off by late 2007, exactly how far along are they on this thing, anyway?