you can see the stuff discussing the 2.1 version in several places, including the team blogs, announcements and github
personally, I dislike the Vanilla design rather intensely...
While 2.1 has a new default theme which is responsive, there are no huge shiny text changes... of course, everything that you mention is possible in SMF with mods or custom themes.
Yes, you can make your SMF installation look like Vanilla or NodeBB with extensions and modifications, which, I think, is very cool, and one of the high points of using this software.. We've been getting a lot of traffic from mobile users, so I was going to implement a mobile solution like Tapatalk or so on eventually, but I was wondering if you guys are going to do a default Mobile interface in the future.
I'll be frank: I hate both of them, NodeBB AND Vanilla.
I hate a lot of the 'New Internet' design theory that is mobile-centric. You can see it with large corporate sites like TIME and so on, all the HUGE BUTTONS, bright flashy colors, big fonts...
As I said, everything doesn't have to look like I'm using a mobile device. While it's nice to have when I'm on a phone, or a tablet, it's awkward and ugly and looks like Playskool toys on my desktop.