Matías Diarte and Mobile UIs

There’s been a lot of buzz online today about the news that mobile interface designer Matías Duarte is leaving Palm (now part of HP) and going to Google to be the user experience director for Android. And the consensus is that it’s good news for Android which, while a solid OS, has always been a bit lacking in visual design.

At Palm, he was the vp of human interface and user experience — leading the design of their WebOS. Prior to that, he was the director of design at Danger, working on their Sidekick, and at Helio he was responsible for the Ocean interface design.

I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look back at the work that Matías has done. Take a look… you can see an evolution of technologies and capabilities, along with an increasingly sophisticated visual design and UI aesthetic.


The UI may be low-res graphics, but it packs in a lot of functionality. And later versions were skinned with increasingly glossy looks. Below are a couple sample screens and a video demo of the Sidekick. You can see more screens in this review.


Helio Ocean

Palm WebOS

WebOS was a major design step from his earlier UIs. Influenced by the iPhone, but definitely unique,  it was beautiful and elegant — with great use of fonts, transparencies, and transitions. Below is a video from Palm’s 2001 CES Keynote Presentation launch of the Pre and WebOS. Jump ahead to 18:00 to see Matías present the WebOS design. On this Feacebook discussion Matías talks about the, sadly rare, collaboration between design and engineering.