Android News

Google Play Music caps device de-authorization, ROM flashers and gadget-happy users be damned

May 16, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka



Something funny happened to me Sunday night. I tried to set-up Play Music on a Toshiba Excite but was told that I had reached the limit of devices and would have to de-authorize one before I could continue. The only problem is that when I went to remove one item to free up space, I was greeted by a message saying that I’ve de-authorized too many devices and would not be permitted to continue. Mad Men was coming on, so I put it out of my mind until this morning, when I read that other people are having the same problem.

It turns out that Google Play Music has set a cap on the number of devices that can be removed from an account. We’ve long known that Play Music only supports up to 10 devices, but the service previously made that limitation about current devices, not cumulative. I’ve personally added and removed 20 phones and tablets since Play launched last year, and I didn’t have any issues until now. Some time in the past 60 days, Google changed the rule to allow only four de-authorizations per year.

An XDA thread highlightsthat this isn’t even limited to devices; people who flash ROM’s frequently have discovered this issue affects them as well. Google may recognize the same device on multiple instances depending on what kind of ROM the user installs, so someone who frequently flashes different ROM’s is bound to reach the limit and become unable to use Play Music. (Notice in the image below that my HTC EVO is registered twice because I authorized it using Sense and CM7.)

I called Google support to see if there was some way that I could get amnesty to remove more devices because I never knew about this limit. The support tech informed me that I can only de-authorize up to four devices per year and it’s non-negotiable because of anti-sharing measures, meaning I’m S.O.L. until 2013. One user who heard a similar story put in a request to get Google to manually de-authorize his devices, but don’t count on that happening often.

I’m very disappointed in this news because it means I might have to quit using Play Music at some point. It’s been great to have all my music stored in one place and accessible anywhere, but that’s going to end if I can’t change which devices are authorized. I upgrade my hardware annually and will probably flash multiple ROM’s, so I’ll never be able to play nice with Google’s new policies. I know I’m a rare case, but it would be nice if Google could have at least warned people prior to this change to give us a better chance of complying.


It appears to be working, for now at least. De-authorize devices while you can.


Tip: to de-authorize devices, go to, click the settings icon in the top right corner, click Music settings, and then scroll down to Manage My Devices.