Back in 2012, Google found itself at the receiving end of quite a bit of flack when it imposed a seemingly arbitrary limit on how many devices you can de-authorize from the Play Music service. Google backtracked back then, but now the limitation seems to be back place.
Here’s how the Play Music authorization system works – in order to prevent the abusive use of one Play account on many devices (e.g., you share an account with all your work mates), Google requires you to authorize each device you want to use Play Music on, with a top limit of ten authorized devices. This includes phones and tablets, but also PCs, and other devices.
What happens if you sell, lose, or simply stop using a device? Well, you can de-authorize it, so it stops counting to your 10 authorized device ceiling.
Previously, you could de-authorize as many devices as you wanted. But sometime recently, Google reinstated a limit of four de-authorizations per year.
Wait, is this a problem that mostly concerns tech bloggers, reviewers, and other people who swap devices like socks? You’d be forgiven to think so, but the four per year limit could affect quite a lot of “regular” users.
For instance, flashing a new ROM on a device will require you to re-authorize it. Even a factory reset phone will show up like a new device in Play Music, forcing you de-authorize the ghost of the old one. So, with a couple of computers, a tablet or two, a smartphone, and a ROM flashing habit, you can easily hit the ceiling in just a few months.
Adding to the confusion, the Play Music web app tells you when you’ve exceeded the de-authorizations limit, but the Android app does not, it simply does nothing when you try to remove a device.
Bottom line, if you’re a Play Music power user, try to plan ahead which devices you are going to authorize and de-authorize over the next months.