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And so our long national, er, mild annoyance is over. Following a recommendation by a special committee last month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that restrictions on portable electronic devices such as the iPhone and iPad on airplanes in the coming months will be far less imposing than they were in the past.
Keep in mind that this won't be a sudden transition. As AppleInsider reports, most of the restrictions will be lifted by "the end of the year," with rollout dates varying by airline. When finished, you'll be able to take part in activities such as reading e-books, playing games, and watching videos during most stages of the flight as long as you have your phones on "Airplane Mode." (And just who is going to check that?)
The one key difference is that all such devices must be stowed in the back pocket during the actual act of taking off and landing, but you'll no longer have to wait until the plane reaches 10,000 feet as you had to in the past. There are catches, though--such as periods of low visibility in which pilots need to rely almost exclusively on the onboard electronic guidance systems in order to land.
What's the holdup? Essentially, making sure that the plane can handle the situation described above. Each airline will have to prove that their electronics can work fine without radio interference, and then there's the more mundane task of replacing all those pamphlets and audio announcements with now-outdated information.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.