Google Music gives you a pretty flexible means by which to access your music library, supporting both mobile devices and web-based streaming. While there are limitations in place regarding just how many phones and tablets you can tie to your account, the ceiling seemed high enough that it wouldn’t be an issue for most users. Some restrictions on how Google Music handles device authorization are now coming to light, and the consequences are generating some concern.
Google’s limit of tying ten authorized devices to one Music account seems pretty reasonable for most users. Considering you can also deauthorize old devices you no longer wish affiliated with your account, it sounds like you’d need to be a serious Android freak to have ten devices you’re actively shuffling through. The problem, though, is in how those deauthorizations work, as well as how Google recognizes unique pieces of hardware.
As of now, Google is putting a four-per-yer limit on how many deauthorizations you’re allowed. Combined with the ten Androids that can be actively on the account, that limits you to using Music with fourteen devices a year. The annoying part comes up when you start flashing a bunch of ROMs; doing so may cause Google to recognize the newly-flashed handset as a new device, requiring you to add it to your account. Flash too much, too often, and you’ll find yourself up against those limits pretty quickly.
Admittedly, this sounds like it only has the potential to affect a comparatively small fraction of Google Music users, and even then it doesn’t threaten to cut you off from the service entirely. Still, we can see how this has the potential to become very annoying.
Update: It looks like Google might have already changed its tune.