Apple's AirPods wireless earbuds are the most hard-to-find gadget of the moment, with no pairs in stores and shipping dates from Apple.com estimated for 6 weeks from now. Fortunately, though, you can arrange to be told when the hot audio accessory arrives at the Apple Store of your choice, thanks to a new site called Is In Stock.
When you visit the AirPods page at Is In Stock, you get a prompt to enter your email address and a store near you. After clicking Notify Me, you'll discover how the site plans to afford its costs (it doesn't run ads), as it tells you how many people already signed up for notifications, and that you can pay to be "the first to know" by buying "priority alerts."
And what happens if multiple people buy priority alerts for a single store? The FAQ on Is In Stock explains that priority alerts just place you in the first queue of emails sent out, before the standard queue. If you just want to see if the Apple store near you has AirPods for sale at the moment, this Is In Stock page lists the stores that are currently with and without AirPods.
If you want to set up notifications for multiple stores, Is In Stock offering bulk discounts, with one notification costing $2, three selling for $3 and 5 going for $4. As encouragement to get you to buy priority alerts, the site presents a timeline of In Stock and Out of Stock time-stamps, which can be as short as 1 minute. That's why the alerts include links for purchasing via reservation for pickup, which you might need to use no matter how close to the store you are.
This system of alerts for AirPods is the first service that Is In Stock is offering, and its creators (a software firm called Neue Concept) state it was created originally to get them their own pairs.
A representative from the Bay Area, CA-based Is In Stock told Tom's Guide that it pulls this information at a high frequency directly from Apple.com, looking for stores that switch AirPods availability from Not Available or Available. It then stores this information for its records and then sends out notifications.