Saturday, March 17, 2018

Apple has a new problem with DRM and device management

Today one of the family iPhones died. I went to remove it from our quota of devices (you can have a maximum of 10 devices associated with a family account) in iTunes Mange Devices.

I couldn’t. 

There’s a 90 day time limit to change associations, which I don’t recall being enforced for removal, but here you go…

Screen Shot 2018 03 17 at 4 46 09 PM

Except it’s not 90 days, because the grayed out non-removable devices were associated as long ago as May 2016.

Things are broken in two ways.

1. What does Apple want us to do with a wiped or lost or broken device?

2. The items I can’t remove are years old.

PS. Yeah, I hate Apple too. But really, everybody does.

Update: I reviewed Apple’s support document. If you have a working device you can remove the device from the DRM control list — but only through one very obscure screen. Logging out of iTunes doesn’t do it. Otherwise device removal requires iTunes, which, for me yesterday, showed this error.

Today I rechecked, and all the devices with “1 day remaining” are still “1 day remaining”. It’s broken.

Once this type of blunder would have been a bit of a deal, but now we’re so numbed by Apple’s quality collapse even I can’t put much energy into it. All the money in the world can’t replace culture, and Apple’s culture is broken.

Update: Added to Apple Discussions, asked @AppleSupport on Twitter.

Update 3/23/2018. On my second Apple Support call the “Senior Advisor” and I found a fix. We think iTunes, or the database it accesses, is broken/deprecated. From my Apple Discussion post:

We have a fix. On my second try with Support I called iCloud support and was escalated to the "Senior Advisor" level. Andrew and I worked the problem and found that you now need to work with There's now a section called Devices that lists devices signed into. In my case it listed all 10 devices that use the same iTunes Apple ID, so by "signed in" it means "signed in with Apple ID for iTunes/DRM".

Click on device and you get a remove option.  If the device is in use and signed in then it may reappear. You can restore a device that you have removed by signing out of the iTunes Apple ID, then signing back in again.

The iTunes Manage Devices (Account:View My Account:iTunes in the Cloud:Manage Devices) screen did not update after doing this, it still showed the device I removed. I think it’s mostly broken. (Mostly, because I was able from there to sign my iPhone 8 out of iTunes and that reenabled the Remove button, albeit with the broken ‘1 day remaining’ screen, and after signing it back in the Remove button is still active.)

PS. It’s not clear if Apple is still using the 90 day limit for switching Apple IDs. It doesn’t show up in the new iCloud UI.

PPS. Maybe iTunes in the Cloud is using a different database than iCloud to manage DRM, and that the two databases are supposed to synchronize. The iTunes database may be on the way out, so it didn’t get updated when it needed to be…

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