Google is re-working the Google Play authorization system

May 16, 2012
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The Android world was somewhat up in arms today after discovering new limitations on Google Play Music, namely that you could only de-authorize up to four devices every year. This put those who often flash new phone or tablet ROMs in a bind, since an active flasher could run through his or her quota in a couple of months. The small but extremely vocal portion of Android users that this affects made their opinions known, and Google seems to have removed the limitation for the moment.

A few hours after changing the limit on Google Music itself, this message appeared on the Google Play support page:

Yesterday we made a change to our device policy for music on Google Play.  Any user can associate up to 10 devices to his or her account.  Once you have connected 10 devices, you may add a new device only by deauthorizing an existing one from your account, and you may do this up to four times per year.

We limit the number of times you can swap out new devices at the request of some of our music partners in an effort to limit abuse. We understand this has caused some issues for users who often deauthorize and reauthorize the same device, and we are currently re-implementing the solution in a way that works for our users and music partners.

We apologize for any inconvenience and will update this page as new changes are made.

As many had suspected, the new limitation was a stipulation of Google's music publishing partners - who don't exactly have the best reputation when it comes to technological freedom (or common sense). At the moment and for the foreseeable future you're unlimited on the number of devices you can authorize and de-authorize, so if you're worried, head over to the Google Play Music settings page and remove your old devices or ROMs now.

The issue at hand isn't necessarily the restriction itself, it's how Google Play "sees" devices and software. If A Galaxy Nexus owner connects to the Google Play Store with a stock ROM, then CyanogenMod 9, then AOKP, it might be identified as three different devices. Frequent ROM flashers (not to mention phone reviewers!) can see a massive and disjointed list of devices and ROMs. You can see my personal list below, including a ton of devices I've reviewed for Android Community and various personal ROMs.

Google hasn't said how it will change the system, but they have promised to keep us posted. Considering how fast they changed their policy when notified of the problems therein, I'd say they've earned the benefit of the doubt.


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