Our long and nightmarish wait for the third-gen AirPods could soon be over, if the latest rumour is accurate. We are hearing that Apple's newest wireless earbuds will arrive on Tuesday 18 May.
The YouTuber Luke Miani posted an enigmatic tweet saying only "May 18", and from context it was evident that this referred to the launch date of the 2021 AirPods.
May 18— Luke Miani (@LukeMiani) May 13, 2021
(As an aside, can leakers please stop it with the enigmatic tweets, and start saying what they mean in clear, detailed language? We all know you're being deliberately ambiguous to cover yourselves in case you've got it wrong. We are on to you! Okay, rant over.)
The leaker-monitoring site AppleTrack got in touch with Miani and managed to extract a few more details: the new AirPods will be announced via a press release on Apple's site rather than via a dedicated event, and will be announced alongside the new high-res audio tier of Apple Music.
AppleTrack, which keeps a tally of the major leakers' accuracy across multiple predictions, notes that it does not have any figures for Miani, who does not have a track record at all. For this reason it's worth remaining reasonably sceptical about this claim, although AppleTrack also observes that the prediction tallies with its own sources: the sites says it "has heard privately that Apple is planning to release new AirPods in the coming weeks".
And Apple's new wireless earbuds are long overdue, the AirPods Pro having launched in October 2019 and the last update to the company's basic AirPods having arrived as long ago as March 2019. Following a blockbuster 2020, sales of the AirPods fell off quite dramatically in 2021, suggesting that fans are saving their money for the new models (or that they all own a pair of 2019 AirPods already). Many pundits expected new AirPods to appear at Apple's Spring Loaded event in April, and were disappointed and surprised when they didn't.
In other words, this prediction is at least completely plausible. It makes sense. In fact we made this very prediction in our New Apple products coming in May 2021 article.
The next version of the AirPods is expected to take a number of design cues from the AirPods Pro, including shorter stems, a horizontal rather than vertical case design and possibly silicone ear tips. For the latest rumours, check out our new AirPods hub. For the latest bargains on the current models, check out our guide to the best AirPods deals.