Managing Devices in your iTunes Store Account
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Q: I recently replaced my iPad 2 with an iPad 3. I removed the old iPad from “Account Information / Manage Devices” in the iTunes Store. The person to whom I gave the iPad 2 performed a Restore within iTunes, and set it up as a new iPad. I restored from the backup of the iPad 2 during the initial setup of the iPad 3. However, the iTunes Store still thinks my iPad 2 is associated with my account. I removed it again, and repeated logging in to the iTunes Store from the new iPad, but the Store still shows my iPad 2 as an associated device (albeit with the current date). Is this a bug in the iTunes Store? Did I miss or incorrectly perform a step in transitioning from the old iPad to the new? Will I have issues with the iTunes Store on the new iPad in the future?
A: Actually, there does appear to be a problem in the iTunes Store with regard to actually identifying the new iPad models in the Manage Devices section. Basically, iTunes seems to be misidentifying at least some third-generation iPad models as second-generation devices—at least two of our editors are experiencing the exact same problem in this regard. In the example below, the first “iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G” entry represents an actual iPad 2 that would have been registered on that date; the last entry is actually a third-generation iPad that was setup from a backup of the previous iPad 2, similar to the scenario you describe. Note that the original iPad 2 is still in use with this account, yet despite being erased and setup as an entirely new device it also still appears under the old name.
The good news is that this appears to be merely a cosmetic issue—simply a matter of the wrong device model name being displayed. If you can connect to the iTunes Store from your device, and play and download content, your device is setup correctly regardless of what the Manage Devices screen shows.
In the same way as iTunes computer authorizations work, iOS devices and computers are registered with iTunes based on a specific hardware identifier in addition to the registration information being stored on the device itself. Restoring an iOS backup from one device to another will not transfer the iTunes Store registration; the new device still registers as a new device.
If you erase an iOS device and set it up as a new device you will still need to sign into the iTunes Store with your Apple ID and password to access your account regardless of whether it is still listed in the Manage Devices section. So in other words, even if you had not removed your old iPad from that list, the new owner can’t do anything with regard to your iTunes Store account unless they actually know your Apple ID and password, nor will the iPad display any indication of being registered for your account—the Manage Devices list only applies to the iTunes Store side and the iTunes Store does not push any account settings out to your devices, registered or not.
In fact, the device associations listed in iTunes are actually only used for features such as iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match. The only reason you even need to bother removing an older device from the Manage Devices screen is to free up a registration slot as there is a ten-device limit for these services.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that because the device registration is based on the hardware, the 90-day restriction on switching accounts will continue to apply even if you restore the device completely back to factory settings, configure it as an entirely new device and remove it from the Manage Devices section of the original account. This means that when selling a used device, the new owner may find themselves unable to use it for their own content from iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match unless at least 90 days have passed since the last time you switched accounts. You can determine if you have any devices that are affected by this restriction by looking at the Manage Devices screen, which will display the number of days remaining before the device can be associated with a different iTunes Store account; no “days remaining” indicator means that the device can be switched to a different account at any time (which will start the 90-day clock on the new account).
The good news here, however, is that Apple doesn’t appear to start the 90-day timer until the first time you switch accounts; in other words you can switch away from the first account you setup on your device for iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match at any time, when doing so you’ll receive a warning that you will not be able to switch accounts again for 90 days from that point.
Note that this 90-day limitation only affects the ability to re-download previously purchased content, automatically download content purchased from another device, or enable iTunes Match; it does not prevent the user from using another iTunes Store account to purchase content directly on the device or transferring purchased content onto the device directly from iTunes over USB or Wi-Fi.
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