Google has reinstated a restriction on the number devices you can detach from Google Play Music.
This change resurrects a rule that was in place in 2012, limiting the number of yearly device de-authorizations to four. That limit was removed after user uproar, but was quietly reinstated this week.
To find out if you have reached the limit, head to the Settings > My Devices in the Google Play Music app on Android or iPhone. Tapping on the X next to a device name should remove it. However, if it does not disappear then it’s likely you have reached the limit. Unfortunately the app does not provide any feedback beyond that.
The only way to get confirmation is through the Play Music web app, which will give a specific message that, “Sorry, you’ve deauthorized too many devices.”
This will be a problem for those who share an account across multiple devices, and could rear its ugly head when you're trying to resell or gift an old phone.
Another issue: The limit appears to be retroactive. I was unable to de-authorize a device when trying this Friday and unable to determine how the limit had been reached. The only available information in the Google support docs simply specifies the limit of four.
While it may seen this is a niche complaint limited to tech writers and Android geeks who buy devices by the bucket full, there are some practical concerns. When doing a factory reset—which sometimes is necessary if a device is acting buggy—Play Music often creates a duplicate entry for the device. The same thing sometimes occur when you update to a new version of Android. So even if you only have one phone or tablet, you could potentially have four or more "devices" attached to your account.
Android Police's Ryan Whitwam convinced Google Play support to reset the number of device de-authorizations on his account, however. This would solve the issue in a clunky, roundabout way, but the ordeal is probably going to create some angry and confused customers in the interim.
We've reached out to Google about the change and will update this post if the company gets back to us.