- Reuters/Beck Diefenbach
Apple’s truly wireless earbuds, called AirPods, are one of the hottest new gadgets right now.
Despite being available for a few months now – they were supposed to release in October, but got delayed to December – finding AirPods is still incredibly tough. Unless you’re extremely lucky, you will not be able to walk into an Apple store and find AirPods.
Even if you ask store employees, like I did, they’ll point you towards Apple’s website, which says AirPods won’t be widely available for at least another month. As of March 3, Apple says AirPods won’t ship until April 21.
But here’s what Apple doesn’t broadcast: Apple stores actually do receive routine shipments of AirPods on a semi-regular basis, albeit in small quantities. And there is a way to ensure you can find, buy, and pick up a pair of AirPods as soon as they become available at a nearby Apple store, which is way faster than waiting for Apple to ship them to your door.
After trying this method myself, I was able to find and buy a pair of AirPods in less than a day. Here’s how it works:
First of all, here’s why these websites work in the first place:
The following websites are not sanctioned by Apple in any way, but they are extremely accurate and work like a charm. Here’s why: Apple stores won’t advertise when they receive a new shipment of AirPods, but Apple’s website does in fact update in real-time, and will reflect when any given store receives AirPods.
There’s no way to get notifications from Apple.com when new units are available, but these sites keep track of Apple’s available inventory to give you alerts in various ways – some via email, some via browser notifications.
Regardless of which website or service you choose, you’ll also need to use Apple’s own website to actually reserve your AirPods for pickup. Here’s how that works:
- Apple; Dave Smith/Business Insider
Once you get an alert from any of the following sites, quickly go to the AirPods page on Apple.com, click “Buy,” but then choose the “Pickup” option on the page, as seen in the image above.
You’ll then see a list of nearby stores, based on the ZIP code you chose.
Most of the stores will say AirPods won’t be available for another month, but once you get an alert from any of these sites, you should see a green button instead of the ship dates, which will allow you to buy the AirPods online and pick them up from an Apple store that same day – in as little as one hour.
The first site is by far the best: Fruit Basket.
- Guy Bianco/Fruit Basket
Fruit Basket was created by Guy Bianco, a programmer based in North Carolina. To me, it’s the easiest site to use because it’s mostly hands-off, but still effective at alerting you. While the other options can send you emails, Fruit Basket can alert you as long as you keep the tab open on your browser; the site crawls Apple.com every 30 seconds, so there’s less of a chance of you missing an opportunity.
So long as you keep the Fruit Basket tab open on your desktop, you can have it alert you via browser notification as soon as there’s AirPods stock available – it’ll put a notification in the center of your screen, even if you’re on another tab – as well as play a sound. It’s extremely effective, especially if you’re at work and on a computer most of the day.
This was the site that worked for me: As soon as I got the notification that AirPods were available at Grand Central Terminal, I visited Apple’s site, found the pick-up option for that store, purchased the AirPods, and picked them up in person – all in less than 30 minutes.
Another great option: IsInStock.com
IsInStock can send you text or email notifications as soon as AirPods are available – this site also works for other Apple products and other rare items like the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation VR.
To create an alert, you’ll need to sign up to receive email and/or text notifications. Signing up also lets you choose which nearby stores you want alerts for, and you can also see a global map of what’s in stock around the world in case you’re interested.
It’s a useful site, but you have to be actively monitoring your phone and/or email for it to be truly effective – I got several emails saying AirPods were available at nearby stores, but since I didn’t notice my emails immediately, waiting even just 10 minutes was enough for those units to sell out. Keep this in mind if you use IsInStock.
Finally, the third best way to get AirPods: iStockNow.
iStockNow is very similar to IsInStock, in that it can show you a map of global availability for any given product, including non-Apple products like the NES Classic, and alert you via email when stock becomes available.
That said, I found this site most useful by looking at stock in a list format. This provides a way of confirming what the other sites might tell you – are AirPods in stock in this store, or not? – and they’ll also show you when those stores sell out to give you an idea of how long available stock actually lasts once it becomes available.
The best piece of advice: Keep at it!
Like I mentioned earlier, AirPods are sent to Apple stores on a semi-regular basis. This might mean your local Apple store gets in shipments every day or two, or every few days, or once a week, or once every couple of weeks. But if you sign up for alerts from any or all of these sites, you should be able to snag a pair of AirPods much sooner than Apple advertises.
Best of luck, and happy hunting!