This was all leaked weeks ago, but it's now official. The U.S.'s Federal Aviation Administration has eased restrictions on the use of electronics in commercial airliners. Using tablets, laptops, and other gizmos will soon be allowed during "all phases of flight," although cell phones will still need to have their cellular radios disabled.
Here's the skinny, straight from the FAA announcement:
Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.
The FAA goes on to say that the implementation of the new rules will "vary among airlines." However, the agency believes that "many carriers" will complete their safety assessments and receive FAA approval to implement the relaxed restrictions "by the end of the year."
So, yeah, we may stop getting badgered about turning off our electronic devices pretty soon. Sweet!