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Garmin joins Apple Pay competition with Garmin Pay on new vivoactive 3

Garmin has announced a new iPhone-compatible GPS smartwatch, the vivoactive 3 —most notably the first device with Garmin Pay, adding to the growing number of NFC-based alternatives to Apple Pay.

To use Garmin Pay, owners must first create a wallet through the Garmin Connect iPhone app and authorize one or more cards, as well as create a passcode. This code must be entered before a purchase once every 24 hours, or whenever the watch is taken off and put back on —this contrasts with the Apple Watch, which unlocks whenever its paired iPhone is unlocked too.

Initially Garmin is supporting Visa and Mastercard options from "major issuing banks," though it's also promising "more being added every day."

The watch itself is built with stainless steel and Gorilla Glass, and uses a combination of a touchscreen and a "Side Swipe" interface for easier control than some other Garmin watches like the Forerunner 935.

On top of GPS and standard motion sensors, tracking features include GLONASS, a barometer, and a thermometer. Over 15 activites are preloaded by default, and the watch can also calculate figures such as stress, VO2 max, and "fitness age." Since the watch is water-resistant up to 5 ATM, one of the default activities is pool swimming.

Battery life is rated at 7 days in regular smartwatch mode, or 13 hours with active GPS tracking.

Two color combinations —black/stainless and white/stainless —cost $299.99 each. A black/slate model is $329.99.

Apple is expected to launch a third-generation Apple Watch with LTE at a Sept. 12 press event.