The U.S. now allows airlines to certify so that its passengers can use electronic devices gate-to-gate. Large devices like laptops that could be projectiles must still be put away below 10,000 feet (but hardcover books can stay out). Electronics are supposed to be in ‘airplane mode’ once you start taxiing to take off (but not while taxiing to the gate upon landing, and not that flight attendants check anymore).
I think this change is great, but so far I use my Android phone on the ground to answer emails (which I then connect to inflight wireless and send upon reaching 10,000 feet). I don’t use a tablet or iPad because I don’t want to lug around another device. I use my laptop, I’m not supposed to have it out at the beginning and end of my flight.
Over in Europe, they’re moving towards gate-to-gate electronics as well with one further liberalization: the use of mobile data plans. If individual airlines choose to allow it, you won’t have to go into airplane mode.
The European Commission has approved the use of 3G and 4G data plans while inflight (2G was already approved). The ruling goes into effect at the end of November, putting it in the airlines’ hands whether or not they’ll permit it.
(HT: sobore on Milepoint)