New Apple launch next week? AirPods Studio or AirTags may be on the way at last

New Apple hardware is imminent, according to a leaked memo – just in time for Tim Cook to play Secret Santa

Apple AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. What new hardware is in Tim Cook’s sack? According to a leaked internal memo revealed by MacRumors, Apple is going to announce new hardware next week on December the 8th. 

This is the second indication of a December product launch: last month Apple tipster L0vetodream promised an Apple “Christmas surprise”.

What Apple probably won't launch next week

Here’s what it won’t be. It won’t be the launch of Apple Fitness+, because the memo was intended for AppleCare providers – that means hardware, not software or a service. The memo tells providers to prepare for new products as well as new and/or updated pricing.

So it’s hardware. But it almost certainly won’t be the new 14-inch and 16-inch M1 MacBook Pros that leaked this week, and it’s highly unlikely that it’ll be another high profile device like a new kind of iPhone. If something really big were coming, the invitations for the Apple Event would have gone out long before now.

The smart money says this’ll be something smaller. Something headphone-shaped, perhaps, or Tile tracker-sized. And it just so happens that Apple has both of those things in the pipeline.

AirPods Studio: bigger headphones at last?

The huge success of Apple’s active noise cancelling (ANC) AirPods Pro means there’s room for another set of noise cancelling true wireless headphones. That could mean we’ll finally see the launch of the long-rumoured AirPods Studio

With true wireless headphones accounting for more than half of the total headphones market it’s another opportunity for Apple to make tons of money, and the spatial audio we’ve already seen in the AirPods Pro is a strong differentiator. 

And while it’s a stretch, over-ear headphones would arguably fit with L0vetodream’s tip that Apple’s Christmas surprise would be “good for winter”: they’ll keep your ears warm.

AirTags: tag your Christmas presents, or your pets

The other long-rumoured Apple product is Apple’s Tile rival, which we expect to be called AirTags. We know they’re real, because there was code for them in the iOS 14.3 beta, and we know what they’ll probably look like

Of the two products, they’re the one most likely to launch: according to a leak via Jon Prosser in October, Apple decided to delay the release of AirPods Studio while going ahead with the AirTags launch. Then again, that launch was supposed to happen in November, so both products are very much still in play.

There’s a third possibility, although it seems less likely: a new Apple TV with its own gaming controller. The current Apple TV has been around for a few years and is due a refresh; rumours have predicted both A12 and A14X chips, which may mean multiple models. However, a new Apple TV is widely expected to be a 2021 release.

Is this the season for Apple fans to be jolly? We’ll find out for sure on Tuesday.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).