Anyone who has flown knows the drill, while the Aircraft is loading, and you sit in your seat waiting to take off, you're welcome to use most electronic devices. However, once the plane is ready to roll away from the terminal the flight attendants start telling people to turn off their electronic devices. Once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, people can again use some electronic devices. However, the FAA has already cleared the iPad to be used by pilots in the cockpit during all phases of flight.
That means while passengers are banned from using their iPads in some of those flight phases, pilots are able to use theirs. The New York Times reports that federal regulators are now reconsidering the ban on consumer electronics for passengers during taxiing, take off, and landing. The NYT reports that FAA deputy assistant administrator for public affairs Laura J Brown has said that the FAA has decided to take a "fresh look" at personal electronics on aircraft.
The downside to the FAA revisiting the rules for devices such as tablets and eReaders is that apparently it still does not intend to include smartphones. I think that has more to do with the irritation that having a plane full of users constantly on smartphones would bring. Currently, FAA rules would allow airlines to request the use electronic devices after the airline has demonstrated that the devices won't interfere with avionics. That rule put the burden of proof on the airlines rather than the federal government so none of the airlines used to that rule. I bet we have a very long time ago before the FAA repeals the ban on some devices during early phases of flight.