Microsoft has pursued a “mobile first, cloud first” strategy for some time. When it comes to SharePoint, this means that new features are initially implemented for the online version and then made available for the On-Premises installations somewhere down the line.
The so-called Modern Sites are doubtless the most eye-catching of the recent innovations. They involved a complete redesign of the SharePoint interface. This redesign is entirely responsive (so ideal for use on mobile devices) in its very inception. What’s more, it comes with a new development approach for expansions, which goes by the name of SharePoint Framework.
This approach will continue to expand, and new Community Sites with a modern look and feel will be available shortly. Take a look at the SharePoint Virtual Summit from May 2017 to see what this will involve.
It is probable that the modern pages will also be ported toward SharePoint On-Premises. But this example alone shows you the direction in which we are heading. Initially at least, new and modern tools will only be available for the cloud. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that certain tools will be available exclusively in the cloud.