Google imposing four de-authorizations limit in Play Music again

by: Bogdan PetrovanAugust 8, 2014

play music authorized devices

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.

  • GrinigGammalGubbe

    Another reason to stay with Spotify.

    • lith

      Meh. Not really. :/

  • Roger E.

    Do people actually authorize other’s devices, I personally would never sign in to my google account on someone else’s phone, too much important stuff. I believe this authorization limit is perfectly fine for play music, but if it was Netflix where I actually do share my account then it would be a different story.

    • lith

      I put play music on my girlfriends iPhone. And on her computer. And my computer. And her tablet. And my tablet. And my phone. That I flash quite often. That’s already 6 devices right there :)

    • Carlos Bojorges

      I flash custom roms on my phone and every time I make a full wipe and enter to play music, it recognizes my phone as a new one so I’m screwed with that.

  • Nagasaky2x

    Oh, the lovely cloud.

  • Shark Bait

    I pay my subscription, I should be able to play my music where i like. Get a grip google!

    • crutchcorn


    • rubbaluvva

      pay ?? lol :)

  • Roberto Tomás

    the “it does nothing” bug to the app turns this from an annoying policy into a critical usability issue. I’m glad I don’t use it.

  • Bálint Dózsa

    “For instance, flashing a new ROM on a device will require you to re-authorize it.”
    This is no longer true. It checks the IMEI number, and when flashing a new rom, you don’t need to authorize again.

    • Will Love

      Is this confirmed?

    • Boothy

      Not true.
      I have 3 Note 2’s listed on my account. I own 1, and have only ever owned 1.
      I’m on 8 devices now, and can’t de-auth any, as the rule counts historical de-auths for 2014.

      • Bálint Dózsa

        I tested it. When i upgraded from LPV97 to LPV81C (clean install), the list not expanded, as previously.
        I read this on AndroidPolice, and it is true.

        • Boothy

          So, why have I got 3 note 2’s listed when they are all the same damn device?
          I reset my phone on Sunday, and that’s the latest one???

          • Bálint Dózsa

            The old duplicates doesn’t disappears. But from now (from yesterday), there are no new duplications.

          • Boothy

            Well, that’s half useful. Shame they couldn’t start counting de-auths from yesterday as well. Give everyone a chance to get in order before implementing new rules.
            Ah well, if it becomes a hassle, plenty of other alternative services to consider.

  • Justin Lock

    This is just pure rubbish. I get the HTC One M8 in two days. It will be my seventh phone within one year and I have had 5 tablets to accompany them. For someone like me who usually has a dozen devices at once, these limits represent a big problem.

    • Phil Rigby

      Not trolling or hating, but why so many devices in such a short space of time? Will you be using Google Music on all of them?

      • Justin Lock

        I help develop and beta-test a rather large amount of applications.
        I also used to write for various publications and, as a fervent techie, it just became a habit.

        I don’t need to have Play Music on all of my devices, but I often come across a better device for my music needs and this can become troublesome, especially as I do tumble through so many devices yearly.

  • crutchcorn

    DIs some BS

  • coolguy949

    I’m grandfathered in to the 7.99 /mo deal, which has kept me from leaving but this might be just enough to get me to cancel.

    • rubbaluvva

      lol it always amuses me when tech savvy people pay for media :))

  • Boothy

    Everyone, just bombard Google with Feedback from the app.
    I have 6 devices personally, and current have 3 Note 2’s stuck on my account (even though they are the same phone). They have also started counting historically, and I can’t de-auth any as of today, as I’ve hit my limit earlier in the year………….

    • Ryan Farris

      Yeah, I’m due for a phone upgrade, and I think I’m totally screwed. I have de-authorized several devices in the past year due to phone replacements (for myself, wife, and kids’ phones/tablets), factory resetting, and just getting rid of older devices.

  • Ryan Farris

    That’s a total bummer. I upgrade phones every year (mine & my wife’s), and give our old phones to our kids. Every time, I do a factory reset for the kids to sign-in with their accounts on their phones, but I put my google music account on their devices. The devices each show up twice on my device list, so I end-up having to de-authorize 2 of them. Recently, they both broke their phones, so we busted out the old old phones (DroidX and Samsung Fascinate) to replace the broken ones. That’s 2 more de-authorizations for the broken ones and 2 authorizations for devices that had been previously de-authorized a while back.

    I guess the real question is whether it counts as a de-authorization if the device ends-up being re-authorized.

    Would I have to sign-in and authorize the device (so there are 2 for the same device on my list) before I can de-authorize it without it counting toward the limit of 4? If I de-authorize, and then re-activate, it shouldn’t count the de-authorization toward my limit.

    • tonylefler

      I just factory reset my nexus 5 and google music still recognized it as my “Nexus 5” – no additional authorization.

      • xoj_21

        it does if you install a rom

        • rubbaluvva

          exactly it should ONLY go on model type

  • tonylefler

    How is this new rule a deal breaker? Normal people usually have ONE PHONE and ONE device (tablet, laptop, etc). That’s only two devices. Techies usually have around 4 devices (phone, tablet, laptop, tv, etc).

    Also, everybody is making this out to be the end-all rule, like there’s no wiggle room. If you just step back and think for a minute, you’re a PAYING customer. If you contact Google, and say, “hey Google, some crap went down, and I’m in need of a de-authorization hayday”, google won’t just sit back and say, “sorry, we have a rule – we can’t do squat-diddly for you.”
    Maybe I’m an optimist, but I think Google is in the business of making money – and from previous experiences with them their customer service is freakin’ top-notch.

    • xoj_21

      i sometimes install a rom every month i have to reauthorize those devices

  • xoj_21

    google is an idiot, was waiting google music to come to my country ,now i dont give a fuck, i flash my room more than 4 times a week sometimes

  • rubbaluvva

    plus if you install new rom on your device it then identifies it as an entirely new device , when i checked i had about 20 devices when i have only 4 !!